You may or may not be aware of the fact that poor oral health and hygiene are currently recognized as major risk factors for pneumonia among the elderly. A new study suggests that elderly patients who sleep in their dentures may be at an increased risk for developing pneumonia. The study was conducted by researchers at the Nihon University School of Dentistry in Japan. It was then published by the International and American Associations for Research (IADR/AADR) in the OnlineFirst portion of the Journal of Dental Research.
To begin the study, researchers randomly selected seniors (228 males, 296 females) whose average age was 87.8 years old. These patients were then examined for oral health status and oral hygiene behaviors as well medical assessment. The medical assessment portion of the research included blood chemistry analysis. These patients were then followed up annually until their first hospitalization for or death from pneumonia.
Forty-eight events associated with pneumonia were indentified during the three-year follow up period. This included 20 deaths and 28 acute hospitalizations. Among 453 denture wearers in the study, 186 (40.8%) who wore their dentures during sleep, were at higher risk for developing pneumonia as compared to the patients who removed their dentures at night. In addition, those who wore dentures while sleeping were more likely to have tongue and denture plaque and gum disease and inflammation.
Clearly, more research is needed on this important topic. However as a result of this study and other related research, some clinicians in the field of dentistry are now recommending that their geriatric patients remove their dentures before they go to sleep at night. If you are elderly, wear dentures and want to get more information about your how decrease your risk for developing pneumonia, talk to your dentist today.