This article is an evaluation of the literature on oral hygiene as a risk factor for nursing home–associated pneumonia (NHAP) and with interventions to improve oral hygiene and reduce the incidence of NHAP. The background for this article is that studies that have evaluated interventions to improve oral hygiene and prevent NHAP have conflicting results. To try to understand the reason for these results, the objective was to examine risk factor and intervention studies and determine their methodological validity. Review of studies evaluating oral hygiene status as a risk factor for NHAP found multiple methodological problems, resulting in limited evidence to support this association. Studies of intervention methods, whether finding benefit or not in preventing NHAP, all had methodological limitations. Therefore, it is unclear whether oral hygiene is a risk factor for NHAP and whether improving oral hygiene decreases the incidence of this infection. A recommendation is made that future studies should carefully define the etiology of suspected NHAP using molecular techniques when evaluating methods to prevent this infection because viral pneumonia and aspiration pneumonitis may mimic bacterial pneumonia even though, at times, there may be coinfection with bacteria. In this latter situation, improving oral hygiene may not prevent pneumonia. Therefore, viral infection and pneumonitis with or without bacterial coinfection need to be excluded so that the focus is on prevention of bacterial pneumonia.
Journal of American Geriatrics Society – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ;
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