Teeth in the News: Dental Care Reduces Respiratory Infections in the ICU

We are always pleased to pass along any oral health information to our patients and their families as we come across it in our various news sources.  Simply put:  we love it when we find teeth in the news! 

Tooth illustration with iconWhile we don’t spend significant time in hospitals ourselves, we were still happy to hear about a recent study that suggests that patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital benefit from enhanced dental care in more ways than you would expect!

Typically, in an ICU setting, patients receive routine oral hygiene treatments from the nurse staff.  However, when researchers assigned half of the patients to receive enhanced dental care from a dentist that included brushing, tongue scraping, calculus removal and more, they found that those patients were 56% less likely to develop a respiratory tract infection during their ICU stay.

This is significant because hospital-acquired infections such as respiratory infections are not uncommon due to the nature of the hospital environment and can be dangerous for vulnerable patients.  You may be wondering “What is the connection between oral hygiene and respiratory infections?”  In fact, infections such as these often originate in the oral cavity.  Catching them early before they get into the major organs of the body may be one way to combat healthcare-associated infections.

This is just another example of how your oral health affects the health of your whole body!  Be sure to employ excellent brushing and flossing habits at home while you are well to avoid additional problems in your body down the road!

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