Improved Oral Care Linked to Fewer ICU Patient Infections

Improved Oral Care Linked to Fewer ICU Patient Infections

In recent years, a growing amount of research has uncovered surprising connections between an individual’s oral health and his or her overall health. Studies have shown that individuals who suffer from poor oral health have an increased risk of developing a number of serious long-term health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and even some forms of cancer. This type of research makes it abundantly clear that the mouth acts as a gateway to good health.

Now new research has found that vulnerable patients staying in Intensive Care Units who receive improved oral care from a dentist significantly lower their risk of developing a lower respiratory tract infection, such as ventilator-associated pneumonia, during their time in the hospital. The results of the study were published in the most recent issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Surprising Breakthrough

Bacteria that contributes to healthcare-associated infection typically begin in the oral cavity, stated researchers in their study. This latest study suggests that having a dentist provide weekly care to patients in ICU could improve patient outcomes for those at greatest risk of infection.

Improved oral care included the removal of calculus, tongue scraping, teeth brushing, tooth extraction, and the application of a topical ointment to compensate decreased saliva production. In comparison, the type of oral care most ICU patients typically receive consisted of using gauze to wipe down the mouth and the application of a topical ointment.

Patients who received enhanced oral care were 56 percent less likely to develop a respiratory infection during their stay in the hospital when compared to patients that did not receive enhanced oral care. Researchers noted that reason improved dental care helps to reduce a patient’s risk of infection could stem from the removal of oral bacteria, thereby preventing the bacteria from migrating to the patient’s lungs.

The Need for Better Oral Health

Patients undergoing a hospital stay are not the only ones who can improve their overall health through better oral hygiene. The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day for two minutes at a time and flossing daily. The ADA also recommends that patients receive regular dental exams and cleanings as part of maintaining and improving their oral health.

Studies have shown that better oral health offers a number of advantages even beyond improved health. Recent research has noted that individuals who enjoy strong oral health perform better at work and at school and even perform better at sports when compared to those with poor oral health.

As more research comes forward, it becomes clear that quality oral health is a key to enjoying the highest standard of living possible. From your expert on dentistry in Sonora, CA and the surrounding areas, Dr. Paul Berger.

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