Gum infections may increase risk for community-acquired pneumonia

Published on February 4, 2013 at 5:15 PM · No Comments

By Helen Albert, Senior medwireNews Reporter

People with moderate-to-severe periodontitis are at increased risk for community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) compared with those with healthy gums, show study findings.

"Well-documented studies have suggested that the oral cavity, mainly of individuals with periodontal infections and poor oral hygiene, could be considered a reservoir of respiratory disease and, therefore, a possible risk factor for the development of lung diseases," explain Eduardo Saba-Chujfi (São Leopoldo Mandic Institute and Research Center, São Paulo, Brazil) and colleagues.

They therefore investigated the contribution of periodontal bacterial infection to CAP risk in 70 patients admitted to hospital with CAP and 70 admitted to hospital with other conditions (controls).

As reported in the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Saba-Chujfi and colleagues carried out a detailed periodontal examination of all the patients including assessment of pocket probing depth (PPD), clinical attachment loss (CAL), bleeding on probing (BOP), and presence of bacterial plaque (BP).

Scores for CAL and BOP were significantly higher in the CAP group than in the control group, at 3.16 versus 1.99 mm and 0.33 versus 0.25%, respectively. Chronic periodontitis was also more common in people with CAP than controls, at 61.4 versus 41.4%.

However, BP scores were high in both the CAP and control groups, at 97.1% and 98.6%, respectively, and no significant difference in PPD was observed between the two groups.

Further analysis adjusting for age, ethnicity, gender, and smoking status, showed that having moderate-to-severe chronic periodontitis increased the risk for CAP a significant 4.4 fold compared with having healthy gums.

"CAP is an important public health problem and is responsible for high rates of morbidity and mortality in populations of North and South America," say Saba-Chujfi and team.

They conclude: "Proper oral hygiene in nursing home residents may effectively reduce the rates of pneumonia, achieving significant benefits in this high-risk population, reducing morbidity and mortality caused by pneumonia."

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