REGULAR DENTAL VISITS MAY HELP PREVENT PNEUMONIA
That twice-yearly trip to the dentist could do more than keep teeth and gums healthy: It may decrease the risk of pneumonia by reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth, suggests new research.
Nearly one million Americans become ill with the infection every year and 50,000 die. While it is more common among older people and those with conditions such as AIDS or lung disease, anyone can develop pneumonia. Based on an analysis of a national database of more than 26,000 people, the new research found that people who never get dental checkups had a much greater risk of pneumonia than those who visit the dentist twice a year. In fact, researchers found that those people who never had dental checkups had an 86 percent increased risk of pneumonia compared to those who had twice-yearly appointments.
The mouth contains 10 times as many microbes (bacteria, fungi and viruses) as human cells on or in the body. Some microbes are good and some are bad, but even bad microbes only cause disease under certain circumstances. In some cases, bacteria can be accidentally inhaled or aspirated into the lungs and cause pneumonia. Regular good oral hygiene and dental visits reduce the amount of bacteria that can be aspirated.
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