British researchers have reported that dentures may harbor harmful germs that can cause pneumonia.
In their study, the researchers collected samples from the dentures of nursing home residents, both those with and without pneumonia.
They examined the samples to identify the types of microbes present, mainly focusing on those capable of causing pneumonia, and compared the findings between the two groups.
A lead researcher at Cardiff University in Wales, Dr. Josh Twigg, conducted a denture study and was surprised at the results, stating, “We were expecting to see a difference, but were surprised to see a twentyfold increase in levels of bacteria related to pneumonia on dentures in individuals with pneumonia compared to those without.”
Twigg and his team suggest that dentures could potentially contribute to the development of pneumonia. Improper cleaning of dentures may provide a surface where disease-causing microbes can thrive.
The findings were published on June 21 in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.
However, Twigg cautioned against drawing definitive conclusions from the study, explaining, “While we cannot definitively say that wearing dentures causes pneumonia, this research demonstrates an association.
It’s an initial step in understanding the sequence of events.”
Twigg emphasized the importance of complete denture cleaning: “Our research has revealed the presence of potentially harmful microbial communities on dentures. It’s crucial to clean dentures properly.”
He also highlighted the benefit of regular dental check-ups, noting that proper oral care can potentially prevent the need for dentures altogether.
While previous research has focused on the effectiveness of oral care in nursing homes and hospitals, the impact of denture cleaning on pneumonia risk in this population has remained unclear.
To address this gap, a more comprehensive cross-sectional study used a self-reported questionnaire targeting individuals aged 65 and older who reside in the community.
The study included responses from 71,227 individuals who used removable full or partial dentures.
The incidence of pneumonia within the past year and the frequency of denture cleaning (daily or non-daily) were examined as dependent and independent variables, respectively.
Among those who cleaned their dentures daily, 2.3% experienced pneumonia, compared to 3.0% among those who did not clean their dentures daily.
After applying IPW, periodic denture cleaning was found to have a significant association with the incidence of pneumonia (OR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.01–1.68).
This study provides evidence suggesting that regular denture cleaning could improve health and prevent pneumonia from occurring among older adults living in assisted living conditions.