Regular brushing of teeth in intensive care units can save several patients from death due to hospital-acquired pneumonia.
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Daily toothbrushing among intensive-care patients could be a live-saver — lowering the risk of hospital-acquired pneumonia and ICU mortality, according to a new analysis.
Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the review of 15 clinical trials found that daily toothbrushing was associated with a 33 percent lower risk of hospital-acquired pneumonia among patients on ventilators.
“It’s rare in the world of hospital preventative medicine to find something like this that is both effective and cheap,” said Michael Klompas, corresponding author and infectious disease physician.
Poor oral care in a clinical setting is associated with infections, including hospital-acquired pneumonia — one of the most common and severe healthcare-acquired infections.
Maintenance of oral hygiene in intensive care units often falls upon the nursing staff — often implemented unsatisfactorily due to inadequate resources, lack of training, and time shortage.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Oral Health Toolkit highlights that oral care should be provided at least twice every day with basic oral care products, including:
“Instead of a new device or drug, our study indicates that something as simple as brushing teeth can make a big difference,” Klompas said. These findings could help emphasize the implementation of policies promoting a rigorous oral health routine for hospitalized patients, he added.