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The positive benefits of dental health care often extend beyond their direct application of promoting optimal dental hygiene and oral health. In a new study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, oral care was found to help prevent the prevalence of ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Researchers behind these findings were aiming to reduce the prevalence of hospital-acquired infections - illnesses contracted by patients receiving care at health facilities throughout the U.S. Such infections have been cited as the cause of approximately 99,000 deaths in American hospitals each year, and lead to $33 billion in preventable healthcare spending.
Ventilator-associated pneumonia and central line associated bloodstream infections are the two primary illnesses the study focused on. In one of the practices researchers used to test the efficacy of preventing the former ailment, patients were provided with oral care on a daily basis, including teeth brushing and mouthwashes.
That simple practice, coupled with several other methods, was found to reduce hospital costs, speed up recovery times and lower patient deaths by 2 percent. All told, implementing these practices was estimated to save $12 million a year for a single hospital.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a total of 14 percent of adults aged 20 to 64 claimed to have poor dental health.
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