Toothbrushing tied to lower rates of pneumonia among hospitalised patients
A new study by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in the US and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute examined whether daily toothbrushing among hospitalised patients is associated with lower rates of hospital-acquired pneumonia and other outcomes. The team combined the results of 15 randomised clinical trials that included more than 2,700 patients and found that hospital-acquired pneumonia rates were lower among patients who received daily toothbrushing compared to those who did not. The results were especially compelling among patients on mechanical ventilation. Their results are published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Corresponding author Michael Klompas, MD, MPH, hospital epidemiologist and an infectious disease physician in the Department of Medicine at BWH and Professor of Population Medicine at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, said: “The signal that we see here towards lower mortality is striking – it suggests that regular toothbrushing in the hospital may save lives. It’s rare in the world of hospital preventative medicine to find something like this that is both effective and cheap. Instead of a new device or drug, our study indicates that something as simple as brushing teeth can make a big difference”.
Hospital-acquired pneumonia occurs when bacteria in the mouth enter a patient’s airways and infect their lungs. Patients experiencing frailty or with a weakened immune system are particularly susceptible to developing hospital-acquired pneumonia.
However, adopting a daily toothbrushing regimen can decrease the amount of bacteria in the mouth, potentially lowering the risk of hospital-acquired pneumonia from occurring.
The team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the association between daily toothbrushing and hospital-acquired pneumonia.