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J Dent Res. 2008 Apr;87(4):334-9.

Oral health and mortality risk from pneumonia in the elderly.

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Division of Community Oral Health Science, Department of Health Promotion, Kyushu Dental College, 2-6-1 Manazuru, Kokurakita-ku, Kitakyushu 803-8580, Japan.


Although poor oral health influences the occurrence of pulmonary infection in elderly people, it is unclear how the degree of oral health is linked to mortality from pulmonary infection. Therefore, we evaluated the relationship between oral health and four-year mortality from pneumonia in an elderly Japanese population. The study population consisted of 697 (277 males, 420 females) of the 1282 individuals who were 80 years old in 1997. Data on oral and systemic health were obtained by means of questionnaires, physical examinations, and laboratory blood tests. One hundred eight of the study persons died between 1998 and 2002. Of these, 22 deaths were due to pneumonia. The adjusted mortality due to pneumonia was 3.9 times higher in persons with 10 or more teeth with a probing depth exceeding 4 mm (periodontal pocket) than in those without periodontal pockets. Therefore, the increase in teeth with periodontal pockets in the elderly may be associated with increased mortality from pneumonia.

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