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J Am Dent Assoc. 2006 Oct;137 Suppl:21S-25S.

Pneumonia in nonambulatory patients. The role of oral bacteria and oral hygiene.

Author information

1
Department of Oral Biology, School of Dental Medicine, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, 109 Foster Hall, Buffalo, N.Y. 14214. fas1@buffalo.edu

Erratum in

  • J Am Dent Assoc. 2008 Mar;139(3):252.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Considerable evidence exists to support a relationship between poor oral health, the oral microflora and bacterial pneumonia, especially ventilator-associated pneumonia in institutionalized patients. Teeth or dentures have nonshedding surfaces on which oral biofilms (that is, dental plaque) form that are susceptible to colonization by respiratory pathogens. Subsequent aspiration of respiratory pathogens shed from oral biofilms into the lower airway increases the risk of developing a lung infection. In addition, patients may aspirate inflammatory products from inflamed periodontal tissues into the lower airway, contributing to lung insult.

TYPES OF STUDIES REVIEWED:

The author reviewed laboratory studies, clinical trials and review articles.

CONCLUSIONS:

A number of studies have shown that the mouth can be colonized by respiratory pathogens and serve as a reservoir for these organisms. Other studies have demonstrated that oral interventions aimed at controlling or reducing oral biofilms can reduce the risk of pneumonia in high-risk populations. Taken together, the evidence is substantial that improved oral hygiene may prevent pneumonia in vulnerable patients.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS:

Institution of rigorous oral hygiene regimens for hospitalized patients and long-term-care residents may reduce the risk of developing pneumonia.

PMID:
17012732
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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