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Gerontology. 2003 Sep-Oct;49(5):301-9.

Systemic diseases in association with microbial species in oral biofilm from elderly requiring care.

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  • 1Department of Bacteriology, National Institute of Infectious Disease, Tokyo, Japan.



The oral cavity is a reservoir for colonization and infection of systemic organs by pathogenic bacteria. It is understood that aging, tooth eruption, hormonal changes, active disease, oral hygiene, and other factors have an influence on biofilm formation and bacterial accumulation in the oral cavity.


To understand the influence of systemic health care on microfloral changes, we conducted epidemiological studies of nursing home residents in an attempt to elucidate the relationship between underlying systemic diseases and the isolation frequency of oral opportunistic pathogens.


The prevalence of bacteria and fungi causing pneumonia in association with oral biofilm bacteria were determined using detection culture plates. The influences of gender, age, denture-wearing status, number of teeth, and bedridden status in the patients residing in nursing homes were then analyzed.


The isolation frequency rates of Candida albicans, Pseudomonadaceae, Staphylococcus spp., and some strains of Enterobacteriaceae in plaque samples, as well as C. albicans and Xanthomonas maltophilia in samples from the pharynx, were significantly higher in those requiring systemic care (mean age 83.9 years) than in those who did not require such care (mean 71.0 years). In particular, the frequencies of Pseudomonas spp., C. albicans, and Serratia marcescens in plaque were significantly higher in those who were bedridden. Furthermore, the isolation of Pseudomonas spp. and Klebsiella pneumoniae, and/or C. albicans in plaque was significantly associated with heart disease.


The coexistence of Pseudomonas spp. and C. albicans in elderly with 10-19 teeth is a potential indicator of high risk for pneumonia and heart disease. Therefore, attention to oral hygiene and professional care for removing the indicators may diminish the occurrence of systemic disease in the elderly requiring systemic care.

Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel

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