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Brush, Floss and Prevent Pneumonia:

Practicing oral hygiene is essential to staving off dental problems including tooth decay and gum disease and health issues including diabetes, strokes and heart disease. Recent research has also shown that dental care is a must to preventing pneumonia.

Pneumonia is an illness commonly triggered by a bacterial or viral infection and once stricken with the illness, the result is lung inflammation. Combined with influenza, pneumonia is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States (National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics Report. Deaths: Final Data for 2006. Vol. 57, 14 April 2009). The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to the condition and once infected, it is challenging to cure the condition. Viral pneumonia typically heals on its own and while antibiotics can cure strains caused by bacterial infection, over time the disease has become more drug resistance. It is for those reasons that dental care is extremely important in fighting off the illness in the first place.

Pneumonia and Dental Care

Once primitive dentists got over the concept that tooth worms caused tooth decay and instead found that an imbalance of oral bacteria was to blame, dentistry was never the same. Now, we know about the battle for oral health and that individuals must fight to remove excess dental plaque. Dental plaque are a community of oral bacterial that have banded together to feed on the sucrose deposited on teeth after mastication. The bacterium will produce tooth eroding acids as a by-product. That is the link between pneumonia and dental care.

The findings have come courtesy of scientists at the Yale University School of Medicine. The researchers studied a total of 37 hospitalized patients and they found that there were changes in oral bacteria lelves prior to pneumonia developing. That information was enough for the British Dental Health Foundation to warn that dental neglect can lead to pneumonia.

Preventative Dentistry to the Rescue

1-800-DENTIST defines preventative dentistry as "...when a dentist [and a patient] takes extra precautions with teeth, the oral cavity and associated structures to prevent any problems from developing down the line." The process involves a team effort supported by the daily oral hygiene efforts of a patient and regular cleanings and check-ups provided by a dentist. Dedication to the task will help catch any dental problems early on, allow for the right dental treatments to be implemented and can potentially save patients $8 to $50 (per dollar spent) on restorative care. It is also the solution for preventing pneumonia in the first place.

Nigel Carter, the head executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, acknowledges that links between oral health and general well being have been proven, making oral hygiene the best way to prevent illnesses in the first place. According to Carter, ".. brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning in between teeth daily with interdental brushes or floss, cutting down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks and visiting the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend will be a great starting point," (

Dentists Prevent Pneumonia

Foolishly, some individuals may feel that dental care is simply a matter of vanity, but scientific research will prove otherwise. That is why regular dental visits must be part of any general wellness plan. Individuals struggling tofind a dentist that can clean teeth to prevent pneumonia or other health issues can call 1-800-DENTIST, 24/7 to get the name of a great dental care provider up to the task.