Patients in intensive care units could benefit from regular dental care such as teeth cleanings to protect them from pneumonia, according to new research.
Scientists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital conducted a study which showed that twice-daily tooth brushing of an ICU patient using a ventilator could reduce their risk of pneumonia by nearly half (46 percent), the Missourian reports.
Pneumonia is the most common infection for a critically ill patient to acquire at a hospital, the researchers said.
By introducing the dental care habit of tooth-brushing, nurses at the hospital were able to reduce the annual incidence of pneumonia from 24 to 10 or fewer over the period of one year.
Commenting on the findings, oral biology professor Frank Scannapieco of State University of New York at Buffalo said that bacteria may be the link between dental health and avoiding illness.
"The idea is if you minimize the numbers of bacteria in the teeth, you might reduce the risk of lung infection," he told the news provider.
A large body of research has connected dental health with the overall health of the human body.
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