Something as simple as brushing teeth could help save lives in nursing homes.
Medical research being published in the journal, Chest, points to dental plaque as a source of germs that can be inhaled, leading to pneumonia.
The University of Buffalo’s Doctor Ali El-Solh headed the study.
He says more research is needed to determine whether brushing or rinsing a patient’s teeth or dentures is sufficient to destroy the germs. But he says the study makes a strong case for better dental care in nursing homes.
Other studies have pointed to a connection between germs in the mouth and conditions ranging from heart disease to premature births.
One tooth-disease expert says he’s not surprised nursing home residents may be particularly at risk because he says some of them have no oral hygiene at all.
Revision date: July 9, 2011
Last revised: by David A. Scott, M.D.