Regular dental care reduces risk for nonventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia

August 03, 2022

1 min read


The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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Undergoing preventive dental treatment within 12 months or periodontal treatment within 6 months of hospitalization was associated with a reduced risk for nonventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia, researchers found.

“I read a report from DentaQuest about Medicaid beneficiaries and ventilator-associated pneumonia and dental services,” Dian Baker PhD, APRN, professor at the California State University Sacramento School of Nursing, told Healio. “Because most pneumonia starts from germs in the oropharyngeal cavity, it seemed logical that access to dental services could also impact the cases of nonventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia (NVHAP) — the number one hospital-acquired infection and not yet a hospital-reportable hospital-acquired infection to the CMS system.”


Baker D, et al. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2022;doi:10.1017/ice.2022.163.

Dian Baker

Baker contacted DentaQuest and asked if it would be interested in running a similar study with NVHAP as the key factor. The company agreed, and using these data, Baker and colleagues analyzed hospital records for Medicaid beneficiaries who acquired NVHAP.

They included all Medicaid beneficiaries who were admitted to a hospital at some point in 2019 who had no missing inpatient claims data.

Overall, 13.7% (n = 13,866) of the 1,012,025 Medicaid beneficiaries admitted to the hospital for 2 or more days in 2019 were diagnosed with NVHAP — an incidence rate of 1.95 per 1,000 patient days and 121.9 per 100,000 for Medicaid participants. Further analysis showed that the predicted probability of diagnosis of NVHAP decreased with each additional preventive dental visit 1 year before hospitalization.

In an adjusted model, beneficiaries who had at least one preventive dental visit within a year of hospitalization were 10% less likely to get NVHAP (adjusted OR = 0.9; 95% CI, 0.86-0.95), compared with beneficiaries with no preventive dental visits or visits longer than a year before hospitalization. Further, having a periodontal service — such as scaling or root planning — within 6 months before hospitalization decreased the odds of NVHAP diagnosis by 30% (aOR = 0.7; 95% CI, 0.56-0.89). There was no impact from these services if they occurred 6 to 12 months (aOR = 0.85; 95% CI, 0.66-1.08) or 1 to 2 years (aOR = 0.96; 95% CI, 0.80-1.15) before hospitalization.

“Oral health should be assessed, and health professionals should consider oral care as part of pneumonia prevention for patients in acute-care hospitals,” Baker said.


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