Oral Health in Healthcare Settings to Prevent Pneumonia Toolkit

Pneumonia is the most common healthcare-associated infection in the United States with NV-HAP (non-ventilator healthcare-associated pneumonia) estimated to make up 65% of all healthcare-associated pneumonia cases.

Modifiable risk factors identified in some studies include oral care, patient mobility and angle of the head of the bed.

Oral care is a modifiable risk factor that applies to virtually all patients. Dental plaque begins to form in the mouth within hours after toothbrushing and will continue to grow rapidly if not removed (e.g. with toothbrushing). Plaque can contain pathogenic bacteria, and NV-HAP can result if these microbes are aspirated into the lungs and the host defense mechanisms fail to eliminate aspirated bacteria.

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