Oral hygiene curbs pneumonia risk

Among nursing home residents, having a nursing aide help them maintain good oral hygiene lowers the odds of them dying from pneumonia, a study suggests.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in elderly nursing home residents, Dr. Carol W. Bassim and colleagues point out in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. "Several studies have shown that poor oral hygiene or inadequate oral care are also associated with pneumonia," they add.

Bassim, now at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in Bethesda, Maryland, and her associates studied the impact of enhanced oral hygiene care for residents in two wards at a Florida nursing home compared with residents in two other wards.

What the study found
Initially, there was no difference in the mortality rate from pneumonia between the two groups. However, patients in the oral care group were older and more disabled than those who did not receive oral care, and once this was taken into account the risk of dying from pneumonia was more than three times higher in patients who did not receive oral care.

Pneumonia in the elderly is often triggered by aspirating saliva or food. It is likely that the risk of pneumonia "depends on the quality and the quantity of the oropharyngeal contents of a patient at the time of respiratory inoculation or introduction," Bassim and colleagues explain.

"The quantity of saliva inhaled and a predisposition to gross aspiration events may not be modified through oral care," they add, "but this study indicates that oral care may be involved in significantly reducing the harmful quality of the intra-oral environment, reducing the risk of a patient dying from pneumonia." - (Reuters Health)

SOURCE: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, September 2008.

Read more:
Denture cream warning

October 2008

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
6% - 217 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
81% - 2792 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
12% - 420 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.96
-0.7%
Rand - Pound
19.94
-2.6%
Rand - Euro
17.60
-1.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.66
-0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.4%
Gold
1,659.71
-0.0%
Silver
18.82
-0.4%
Palladium
2,201.50
+2.4%
Platinum
868.00
+0.2%
Brent Crude
89.32
+3.4%
Top 40
56,921
-0.9%
All Share
63,264
-0.9%
Resource 10
59,793
+3.2%
Industrial 25
76,769
-2.3%
Financial 15
13,707
-2.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE