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Could your oral health contribute to you contracting Influenza or Pneumonia?

Overall health begins with your mouth.

Several recent studies provide evidence that the oral cavity may influence the initiation and/or the progression of lung diseases such as pneumonia and influenza.

Pneumonia and Influenza are among the ten leading causes of death reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yearly.

2018 has been one of the worst outbreaks since 2003 taking the lives of up to 4,000 Americans per week according to an article by TIME.

As of January 20th in Texas alone, there have been 2,355 deaths caused by influenza and pneumonia.

Studies have shown that poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease may foster colonization of the oropharyngeal region by respiratory pathogens, particularly in hospital or nursing home patients. If aspirated, these pathogens can cause pneumonia, one of the most common respiratory infections.

A study investigated the effects of oral care on influenza. It evaluated the activities of saliva and how it contributes to influenza. 190 patients who visited a healthcare facility weekly were assigned to a dentist and 100 were not. Ten percent of the unassigned group and one person in the assigned group were diagnosed with influenza during the follow up period. This study confirms that maintenance of oral hygiene is effective in the prevention of influenza.

As dental practitioners, we can treat oral diseases and help improve patients’ health outcomes. By understanding and addressing the inflammation and infection in our patients’ mouths, we can take intentional measures to protect their overall health.

The most important step in moving forward to achieving good oral health is understanding the risks and symptoms involved with chronic inflammation in the mouth and periodontal disease.

Symptoms of periodontal disease include red, swollen or receding gums, painful or tender gums, bleeding gums, loose teeth and unexplained bad breath.

Prevention:
-See your Dentist/Hygienist regularly every 3-6 months depending on your dentist’s suggestion
– When periodontal disease is present it is recommended to have a cleaning every 3 months.
-Be sure to brush & floss daily.
-Do not put off any dental work needed, it should be addressed in a timely manner in order to
avoid further complications.

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