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J Periodontol. 2005 Nov;76(11 Suppl):2154-60.

Involvement of periodontopathic anaerobes in aspiration pneumonia.

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Department of Microbiology, Oral Health Science Center, Tokyo Dental College, Chiba, Japan.


Increasing evidence has linked the anaerobic bacteria forming periodontopathic biofilms with aspiration pneumonia in elderly persons. In experiments designed to eliminate the potent respiratory pathogens forming biofilms in the oral cavity, we have shown that the mechanical and chemical oral cleansing using povidone-iodine effectively reduced the detection rates and numbers of methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus species, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Haemophilus influenzae in patients scheduled to undergo oral surgery requiring endotracheal intubation. We confirmed the pathogenicity of periodontopathic anaerobic bacteria for aspiration pneumonia in an experimental mouse model. Based upon the finding of the coexistence of Porphyromonas gingivalis with Treponema denticola in chronic periodontitis lesions, we innoculated a mixed culture of P. gingivalis and T. denticola into the mouse trachea; the resulting infection induced inflammatory cytokine production and caused pneumonia. In another series of investigations, professional oral health care (POHC), mainly cleansing administered by dental hygienists once a week for 24 months to elderly persons requiring daily care, resulted in the reduction of the number of total anaerobes, Candida albicans, and Staphylococcus species and in the number of cases of fatal aspiration pneumonia. We also found that the POHC treatment of elderly persons for 6 months in the winter season reduced the salivary levels of protease, trypsin-like activity, and neuraminidase and also decreased the frequency of influenza cases.

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