Good Dental Care May Prevent Some Pneumonia

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new study suggests healthcare workers in nursing homes should help residents brush their teeth to prevent pneumonia.

Researchers at the University of Michigan report that aspiration pneumonia, caused when a person inhales small pieces of food and plaque into the lungs, may be prevented with efficacious dental care.

After studying 402 patients age 57 to 98, the team found those who had the highest amount of dental plaque or certain types of mouth bacteria were at the highest risk of developing aspiration pneumonia.

Those who suffer from dementia, or have limited mobility, may also be at risk because they may not be able to take care of their own hygienic needs.

The study, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recommends healthcare workers encourage the use of strong mouthwash that kills bacteria. Additionally, they urge healthcare workers to help residents brush their teeth regularly.

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