A Susceptible Population
This study looked at more than 500 people over age 85 (average age 87.8), who were living in a community setting. This population had a number of potential risk factors that could increase their risk of pneumonia, including cognitive impairment, prior strokes, and previous history of respiratory disease. Researchers gave all study participants a thorough oral health exam.
They followed them for three years and found that there were 48 serious pneumonia events (including 20 deaths and 28 hospitalizations). In the 453 denture wearers, 186 did not remove their dentures at night, about 41% of the total, which seems a high number, given the common instruction to take dentures out. Among denture wearers, those who didn’t take their dentures out were 2.4 times more likely to develop pneumonia. This was more than the elevated risk associated with cognitive impairment (increased risk 2.2 times) and a history of respiratory disease (increased risk 2.3 times). Only a prior stroke increased people’s risk more than wearing dentures (increased risk 2.5 times).