Dentures may hide harmful germs that cause pneumonia, British researchers report.
For the study, the investigators took samples from the dentures of nursing home patients who did and didn't have pneumonia. They analyzed the samples to identify the types of microbes present. The researchers specifically looked for microbes that could cause pneumonia and if there were significant differences between the groups.
"We were expecting to see a difference, but were surprised to see 20 times the number of potentially pneumonia-causing bacteria on dentures in people with pneumonia, compared to people without," said lead researcher Dr. Josh Twigg, who conducted the research at Cardiff University, in Wales.
Twigg and his team believe dentures could play a role in causing pneumonia. If not cleaned properly, they could provide a surface where disease-causing microbes can colonize.
The report was published June 21 in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.
Although this study identifies a possible connection, Twigg said, "You certainly couldn't say that people got pneumonia because they were wearing dentures. It's just showing that there is an association there. This research is an early step in trying to unravel that puzzle of what exactly is the sequence of events," he explained in a news release from the Microbiology Society.
"Our research has shown that there are potentially harmful microbial communities on dentures. It is important to clean dentures thoroughly," he stressed. By regularly seeing a dentist, Twigg noted, people can avoid getting dentures at all.
For more on healthy teeth, head to the U.S. National Institute on Aging.
SOURCE: Microbiology Society, news release June 21, 2023