Washington: Visiting a dentist twice a year may not only keep your teeth and gums healthy but also decrease the risk of pneumonia by reducing bacteria in the
mouth, new research has claimed.
Based on an analysis of a database of more than 26,000 people, the research found that people who never get dental checkups had an 86 per cent greater risk of pneumonia than to those who visit the dentist twice a year. "There is a well-documented connection between oral health and pneumonia, and dental visits are important in maintaining good oral health," said lead author of the study, Michelle Doll from Virginia Commonwealth University in the US.
"We can never rid the mouth of bacteria altogether, but good oral hygiene can limit the quantities of bacteria present," said Doll. Researchers analysed data obtained from the 2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which asked about health-care utilisation (including dental care), costs and patient satisfaction.
They found 441 of 26,246 people in the database had bacterial pneumonia (1.68 per cent) and that those who never had dental checkups had an 86 per cent increased risk of pneumonia compared to those who had twice-yearly appointments. The body contains 10 times as many microbes (bacteria, fungi and viruses) as human cells on or in the body, from the skin to the gastrointestinal system (including the mouth).
"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," researchers said. Bacteria that commonly cause pneumonia include streptococcus, haemophilus, staphylococcus and anaerobic bacteria.
Routine dental visits may reduce the amount of bacteria that can be aspirated, said Doll. "Our study provides further evidence that oral health is linked to overall health, and suggests that it is important to incorporate dental care into routine preventive health-care," she added.