The word vaccination gets people’s attention these days…
What was mostly once a conversation on the playground between mothers watching their kids play has become a national debate. Sure, most of the controversy surrounds young children.
But you had to have noticed that the vaccination business is alive and thriving for older patients — above and beyond the flu.
In fact, the ads are all over the TV nudging us to get a pneumonia vaccine. And you can’t even visit your neighborhood drugstore without getting an invitation from the cashier to get stuck during a quick trip to pick up toiletries.
I’m not saying it’s a good or a bad thing… I don’t tread into the politics of vaccinations.
But when it comes to avoiding an illness as serious as pneumonia can be for mature adults, you should know there’s something else quite simple — with additional benefits — that can lessen your risk…
Dental visits reduce pneumonia risk
Similar to your gut, your mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria. Some of that bacteria is good and some is bad. The bad guys include disease-causing doozies like Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and E. coli.
The longer you let those bad mouth bacteria brew, the more likely they are to travel to other places in your body — especially your lungs…
In a 2016 study, researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University found that regular dental visits can reduce your risk of developing the dangerous respiratory infection, pneumonia, by an astounding 86 percent.
These researchers examined the health and dental records of 26,000 people, and concluded that people who never visit the dentist for check-ups are 86 percent more likely to develop pneumonia than people who visit the dentist twice a year.
Of course, if you’ve only missed one or two dental visits, your pneumonia risk isn’t quite that sky high. But you’re heading down a dangerous road…
A 2014 study confirmed the perils of putting off your dental visits too. In this study, Brazilian researchers found that people in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) who received extensive dental care from a dentist were 56 percent less likely to develop a respiratory infection while in the hospital than those who just received run-of-the-mill dental care.
Clearly there’s a connection between bad bacteria in your mouth and bad bacteria in your lungs… which makes perfect sense. If there’s more bad bacteria lurking around anywhere in your body, there’s a greater risk of it going rogue and causing serious health problems.
Get yourself to a darn dentist…
When life gets busy, it’s easy to let healthy practices fall to the wayside… including your biannual trip to the dentist.
But don’t put that twice-yearly teeth cleaning off too long. Because, if you do, it could set the stage for a serious infection. And if next year’s flu season is anything like this year, you need to everything you can to make sure you’re protected. About a third of all pneumonia cases start as a respiratory illness, most often the flu.
Of course, it’s also critical to practice good oral hygiene in-between dentist visits. That includes obvious habits like brushing your teeth daily, as well as less obvious habits like eating a healthy diet, taking supplements for oral health and practicing the ancient art of oil pulling.
“Regular dental visits may help prevent pneumonia, study shows.” ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
“Proper dental care linked to reduced risk of respiratory infections in ICU patients.” ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
T. Bellissimo-Rodrigues, et al. “Effectiveness of a Dental Care Intervention in the Prevention of Lower Respiratory Tract Nosocomial Infections among Intensive Care Patients: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, 2014; 35 (11): 1342.