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Monday, August 08, 2005

Dental Plaque Linked to Pneumonia

Better oral hygiene, including good regular toothbrushing, may lessen nursing home residents' chances of developing pneumonia, according to a study which traced germs from dental plaque to the lungs of patients with the potentially fatal illness.

Dr. Ali El-Solh, lead author of the study published in the November issue of the journal Chest, said the findings "indicate that dental plaque is a reservoir of respiratory pathogens" that can be inhaled into the lungs and lead to pneumonia.

The University at Buffalo researcher stopped short of saying that brushing or rinsing patients' teeth or dentures is enough to destroy the germs and prevent pneumonia, citing the need for more research. But the study makes a strong case for improving dental care for nursing home residents, he and others said.

Institutionalized and critically ill elderly people, who are often frail with weakened immune systems, are particularly susceptible to pneumonia, and poor dental hygiene has been suspect for several years.

Read more: Dental Plaque Linked to Pneumonia


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