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Putting Your Oral Health at Risk - in the Hospital
September 17, 2013

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Seven days in a hospital critical-care unit may put your oral health at risk, a study suggests.

Researchers kept track of 36 patients in the critical care unit at University College Hospital, London. All of them stayed in critical care for at least a week. During that week, each person's oral bacteria counts increased. The median increase was more than 2.2 million.

Also, after a week, bacteria that can cause hospital-acquired pneumonia were found in 26% of patients. This is also called nosocomial pneumonia.

After 2 weeks, 10 patients were still in the hospital. However, their bacteria count did not go up much during the second week.

Published research to date supports the idea that a hospital stay can harm people's oral health. This is most likely to occur if a respirator is used to help them breathe.

A study published last month found that providing oral hygiene instruction in the hospital reduced the risk of pneumonia in some surgery patients. After surgery, patients who came down with pneumonia had a mortality rate eight times as high as patients who did not.

The University College study appears in the September issue of the journal Critical Care.

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