A recent study revealed that regular trips to the dentist may decrease the risk of developing pneumonia.
According to research from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, visiting the dentist twice a year does more than keep teeth and gums healthy. It also prevents pneumonia by eliminating or reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth. The study showed that out of a sample of 26,000 people, those who never get dental checkups were 86% more likely to get pneumonia than individuals who visited the dentist twice a year.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that affects about 1 million Americans each year, killing roughly 50,000. The illness is caused by breathing germs into the lungs. It is most common among those who have long-term or chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, lung disease, and AIDS.
While pneumonia typically clears up within two to three weeks in otherwise healthy individuals, babies and the elderly may become extremely ill.
The mouth is full of bacteria and it is easy to breathe it into the lungs. Practicing good oral hygiene is the best way to limit the amount of bacteria present, which includes visiting the dentist regularly for an oral health checkup. Unfortunately, only half of adults report visiting the dentist every six months. Even more shocking is the fact that one in 10 people admit frequently forgetting to brush their teeth.
“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. “Our study provides further evidence that oral health is linked to overall health, and suggests that it’s important to incorporate dental care into routine preventive healthcare.”
The human body contains 10 times as many bacteria, fungi, and viruses as human cells. Some of these microbes are good while others are bad. Bacteria microbes that cause pneumonia include staphylococcus, haemophilus, streptococcus, and anaeropbic bacteria.
Symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Coughing up mucus that may or may not be green or suffused with blood
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Heart beating faster than usual
- Fatigue and weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
Symptoms often present themselves differently in elderly patients, however. For instance, they may not develop a fever or cough up mucus. Rather, they may experience delirium and confusion.
If symptoms are severe, health professionals recommend visiting an urgent care facility for immediate attention.