Important! Please share this with anyone you know who wears dentures.
Recent research reveals that wearing your dentures overnight increases the risk of pneumonia especially amongst the elderly. The reason behind this is the dentures can make swallowing difficult which in turn can trigger respiratory problems and subsequent infections.
A study from the Nihon University School of Dentistry in Japan looked at the associations between oral health behaviors and the rate of pneumonia in communal living situations of those 85 years and older.
The study was very comprehensive, using 524 randomly selected seniors with the average age being 87.8. They evaluated oral health status and oral hygiene behaviours, as well as gave medical assessments, including blood chemistry analysis.
They followed up with each senior annually until the first hospitalization or death occurred from pneumonia. This long-term study followed the seniors for three years, and during the study, 48 pneumonia-associated events occurred. Of those 48 events, 20 participants died and 28 were in acute care at the hospital. Among the 453 denture wearers, 40.8%, or 186 wearers, wore their dentures while sleeping and were at higher risk for pneumonia than those who removed their dentures at night.
The study also revealed some other interesting contributing factors. Both perceived swallowing difficulties and overnight denture wearing were independently associated with approximately 2.3-fold higher risk of the incidence of pneumonia, which was comparable with the high risk attributable to cognitive impairment, history of stroke, and respiratory disease!
So what do denture wearers and caregivers need to know?
Current science has revealed that wearing the denture during sleep is associated with:
• Oral inflammation
• Microbial burden
• Aspiration pneumonia
Cleaning the denture daily should be built into care plans for seniors, and all denture-wearing patients should remove them during sleep. These simple modifications could save lives.
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