denturesAccording to a recent issue of the Journal of Dental Research, seniors that sleep with their dentures in are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia. This discovery doesn't come as a surprise since the American Dental Association (ADA) says bacteria in the mouth causes tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss; these bacteria can also be inhaled into the lungs.

The study consisted of 524 randomly selected seniors age 85 years and older that were examined for oral health status and oral hygiene behaviors on an annual basis. Among the study group, 453 wore dentures with 186 of them wearing their dentures at night. After a three year follow-up period, 20 deaths and 28 acute hospitalizations associated with pneumonia were reported in the study group.

Hygiene Suggestions for Patients with Dentures

The ADA suggests that seniors who wear dentures should brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss once a day and remove their dentures before they go to bed. Sleeping in dentures raises the risk of pneumonia due to the amount of debris that coats dentures throughout the day that could be inhaled while the patient sleeps. The ADA suggests that the proper protocol for denture hygiene is for patients to take their dentures out at the end of the day and thoroughly clean them. The dentures should then be placed in a cup of liquid overnight and thoroughly cleaned again in the morning before being re-inserted into the mouth.

Since dentures can cause dry mouth that can ultimately lead to tooth decay, it is also advisable that denture patients see the dentist regularly.

Denise Prichard is the Editor for Spear Education.