Study: Good oral hygiene reduces risk of pneumonia in nursing home residents

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Good oral hygiene can help prevent pneumonia, a leading cause of death among nursing home residents, according to a recent study.

Researchers with the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Maryland, studied four groups of patients at a nursing home in Florida. Two of the groups received enhanced oral hygiene care, while the other two did not. After adjusting the results to account for different variables, researchers found the groups that did not receive extra oral care were three times more likely to contract and die from pneumonia than those who were better cared for.

Inhaling bits of food or saliva, according to the report, triggers many cases of pneumonia among the elderly.  While oral care cannot prevent seniors from inhaling saliva, it can go a long way toward reducing their likelihood of developing pneumonia, say report authors. Their research appears in the September issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
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