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Dental Plaque: A Key Contributor to Fever and Illness in the Elderly

Friday, August 21, 2009

It’s known that gum disease can lead to other health problems such as
cardiovascular disease. Interesting new research results, however, have
named plaque a key contributor to fever and illness in the elderly.

In an all-too-common trend in dental research, university
researchers are discovering that poor oral health almost consistently
leads to systemic problems throughout the body. In the latest example
reported in The Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, the following
was released: “Researchers studied 271 older people who were long-term
hospital patients. The study lasted one year. In that time, people with
high oral plaque levels and at least 10 teeth were more than 5 times as
likely to have fever as were people with 1 to 9 teeth.” Among the
elderly with no teeth, those with more plaque on their tongues were 5
times as likely to have fever as people with cleaner tongues.

Several studies like the one described above have suggested that
poor oral health and poor oral hygiene in all patients can affect
overall health. The bacteria that cause cavities and periodontal (gum)
disease may be risk factors for some types of pneumonia in older
adults, as poor oral hygiene may be linked with pneumonia or difficulty
breathing in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

This recent study only serves as further evidence of the importance
of oral hygiene and upkeep: a healthy mouth contributes to a healthy
nervous system and defense system. Brush and floss twice daily, as well
as after meals. Using tongue scraper or brush to remove plaque build up
on the tongue. Avoid alcohol and tobacco when possible, and brush /
rinse after such activities. Curtail poor oral habits in order to save
your mouth from excessive plaque build-up. Have regular dental check ups and cleaning by a hygienist;
early detection and treatment of dental and gum problem will allow a
cleaner oral environment enable decrease the plaque build up.

Getting old is part of life cycle, but not with our attitude nor our
oral condition. With proper care, our teeth will outlast us, keepup our
oral health can do tons of good for our quality of life.

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