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J Med Dent Sci. 2008 Mar;55(1):7-13.

Impact of routine oral care on opportunistic pathogens in the institutionalized elderly.

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Department of Gerodontology, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan.


Routine oral hygiene is important for the control of opportunistic pathogens in the oral cavity of institutionalized elderly individuals. We evaluated the effects of routine oral care on opportunistic pathogens at various time points after admission to a nursing home. Twenty-five elderly subjects living in the nursing home (mean age: 86.0 +/- 10.4 years) participated in the study. Caregivers and dental hygienists cleaned the teeth, dentures, tongue, and mucosa after each meal using both routine and professional oral care techniques. Opportunistic pathogens were collected from the teeth, tongue, and mucosal surfaces using a cotton swab; and the species of microbes were determined and the numbers were counted following cultivation on selective agar. Regular oral care including professional oral care was found to be effective for reducing infections by many kinds of opportunistic pathogens on the teeth surfaces and the oral environment without food residue during a long-term study (6 months). Further, this care after 1 month significantly reduced infections by opportunistic pathogens on mucosal surfaces in subjects without dentures; however, this was not observed in those with dentures. Our data shows the importance of regular oral care in cleaning hard and soft surfaces of the oral cavity improves the oral health of the institutionalized elderly.

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