Poor oral hygiene could be a major risk factor for respiratory tract infection, especially for elderly people in hospitals and nursing homes. Many elderly take medications that contribute to dry mouth. Insufficient saliva flow cannot effectively wash away oral debris. This increases the chances that oral debris, containing bacteria, may inadvertently be inhaled into the lungs.
Researches have also linked the back of the throat as a reservoir for bacteria that are associated with pneumonia. Pneumonia can result from infection by these bacteria which are also found below the gum line.
For those of us, “healthy” individuals, who still struggle with adopting good oral hygiene habits, you can imagine how difficult it must be for elderly people who are dealing with health issues or may not have the manual dexterity to follow through with proper oral hygiene.
If you have a parent, brother, sister, cousin or friend that is home bound, lives in a nursing home or chronic care setting, try to ensure that personal and proper oral health care has been implemented on a daily basis.
It has been demonstrated that scaling and root planing the teeth of elderly individuals living in the above mentioned circumstances or who are developmentally disabled, can prevent approximately 1 in 10 deaths from pneumonia.
There are independent registered Dental Hygienists that operate mobile dental hygiene practices and would be more than happy to accommodate you, a family member or friend living in these settings.