Michelle Doll, MD, Virginia Commonwealth University, discussed her recent work in assessing the association between regular dental check ups and decreased risk of getting pneumonia.
Michelle Doll, MD, Virginia Commonwealth University, discussed her recent work in assessing the association between regular dental check ups and decreased risk of getting pneumonia. They embarked on this study, because there has been very good evidence that oral hygiene is important for overall health, and it's involved in many infectious diseases. The mouth does have direct communication into the lungs, protected by structures in the airway. And, there's an "increase in recognition that saliva does track down there on a routine basis even in normal, healthy people". Normally it's not an issue, but in patients who have a "large burden of bacteria," because they have dental disease may be at an increased pneumonia risk.
"As a clinician, I've often been frustrated when I do see dental problems in a lot of my patient who don't have dental coverage; I feel a little helpless as to what to do for them," said Doll. As such, in this particular study, the team looked for a link between actual dental insurance and less pneumonia risk, because they felt those who had dental insurance would go to the dentist and potentially have better oral hygiene thus preventing pneumonia.