Twice-yearly dental check-ups can reduce bacteria in the mouth and decrease patients’ pneumonia risk, according to research presented at IDWeek 2016.1

“There is a well-documented connection between oral health and pneumonia, and dental visits are important in maintaining good oral health,” said Michelle Doll, MD, lead study author and assistant professor of internal medicine in the Division of Infectious Disease at Virginia Commonwealth University, in an IDWeek press release.

Dr Doll and colleagues analyzed data from 26,246 patients in the 2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Over 440 of those patients (1.68%) had bacterial pneumonia; those who reported never having dental checkups had an 86% increased risk of pneumonia when compared to those who reported having twice-yearly dental appointments.

“This [data] is consistent with previous reports that oral health is important to general health,” said Dr Doll in a press conference.

Bacteria—such as streptococcus, haemophilus, staphylococcus, and anaerobic bacteria—found in the mouth can be accidentally inhaled into the lungs, causing pneumonia.

“We can never rid the mouth of bacteria altogether, but good oral hygiene can limit the quantities of bacteria present,” Dr Doll concluded.

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Reference

Regular dental visits may help prevent pneumonia, study shows [news release]. Published October 27, 2016. IDWeek 2016; October 26-30, 2016; New Orleans, LA.