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A recent article in the Wall Street Journal explains the deadly hospital-acquired infection, pneumonia, and how the best way to prevent it may be with a toothbrush. Contracting pneumonia is a significant risk for patients in a hospital, especially those undergoing surgery. Pneumonia is the number 1 hospital-acquired infection in America. The sad truth is that hospitals are not doing enough to prevent hospital-acquired pneumonia. Patients can catch pneumonia from bacteria in their breathing tubes and those bacteria may very well likely originate from the mouth.
Experts recommend patients are elevated in their beds, move and walk around so air moves through their lungs and don’t settle in, and deep breathing exercises. “At NYU Langone Health in New York City, patients- whether having complex surgery or an outpatient procedure- brush their teeth and gargle before going under anesthesia and throughout their hospital stay.” Patients go to the operating room within 20 minutes of brushing their teeth. At Sutter Medical Center in Sacramenton, researchers foundn that hospital-acquired pneumonia cases were down by 70% after toothbrushing policies were instituted. Investing in toothbrushes is certainly much more affordable for the health care system than managing pneumonia.