Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute have introduced an economical approach that could potentially lower pneumonia rates among hospitalized patients: daily toothbrushing. Their recent investigation focused on the impact of routine toothbrushing on hospital-acquired pneumonia and its related outcomes. Analyzing data from 15 randomized clinical trials involving over 2,700 patients, the researchers discovered a connection between daily toothbrushing and reduced rates of hospital-acquired pneumonia, especially among individuals on mechanical ventilation. Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study suggests a substantial correlation between consistent toothbrushing and decreased mortality among hospitalized patients.

Lead author Michael Klompas, MD, MPH, a hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist, highlighted the rarity of finding a straightforward and cost-effective preventive measure in hospital medicine. The study emphasizes the potential life-saving effects of such a basic practice as toothbrushing during a patient’s hospitalization.

Hospital-acquired pneumonia, often caused by mouth bacteria entering airways and infecting the lungs, poses a significant threat to frail or immunocompromised patients. The study’s systematic review and meta-analysis, drawing from various global randomized clinical trials, revealed a significant association between daily toothbrushing and a reduced risk of hospital-acquired pneumonia and ICU mortality.

Besides lowering the risk of pneumonia, daily toothbrushing in ICU patients was linked to fewer days on mechanical ventilation and shorter ICU stays. While most studies focused on tooth-cleaning routines for adult ICU patients, researchers are optimistic about potential benefits for non-ICU patients. However, they stress the need for further studies to validate this perspective.

The authors of the study hope their findings will encourage the adoption of oral health practices, including toothbrushing, for hospitalized patients. Highlighting the simplicity and effectiveness of this intervention, they recommend integrating toothbrushing into hospital policies and programs. Whether performed by the patient or a member of the care team, the study advocates for regular toothbrushing as a potentially life-saving measure in the hospital setting.

The research,”Association Between Daily Toothbrushing and Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia” publishied in JAMMA.

Source: Dentistry Today

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