One theme that I often use in these articles is how everything works together. I mean each part of our body has a connection with other parts even if it doesn’t seem possible. One connection I came across recently is the way in which our dental hygiene affects the potential for lung infections.

A recent report of over 2,700 patient observations found that toothbrushing had a link to the risk of hospital acquired pneumonia (HAP). Just as a reminder, HAP is a pneumonia which occurs in hospitalized patients who did not have a pneumonia at the time of admission and who presumably acquired their pneumonia while being a patient in the hospital. These are generally serious types of infections since many are caused by organisms found in the hospital setting as opposed to community acquired pneumonias.

According to this recent report, toothbrushing on a daily basis in patients in the hospital was associated with significantly lower rates of hospital acquired pneumonias and lower rates of mortality in both the general hospital setting as well as the intensive care units. Interestingly, the reduction in ICU mortality was significant primarily in patients receiving invasive mechanical ventilation and not for other ICU patients.

Previous studies with oral rinses with an antimicrobial liquid called chlorhexidine did not show this protection.

While simple toothbrushing has shown this protective effect needs more study if you have the unfortunate occasion to be admitted to the hospital be sure to brush your teeth daily