Article by CVS Health

Oral care is critically important in the post-operative setting because the mouth is filled with bacteria. “We want to shift the paradigm around oral health in hospitals. It’s actually more important to take care of your teeth and mouth when you go in for surgery, not less,” said Mary Lee Conicella, DMD, Aetna’s Chief Dental Officer. One study found disease-causing bacteria—especially those linked to pneumonia—present in 90 percent of patients within 72 hours of being admitted to the hospital. Those bacteria don’t just stay in the mouth, however; they are often inadvertently inhaled into the lungs.1,2,3,4

Brushing one’s teeth greatly reduces the population of bacteria in the mouth, according to nurse-researcher Dian Baker, Ph.D., professor at California State University, Sacramento. “When patients brush their teeth, they’re basically taking their bacterial count from hundreds of millions down to just a few, and this greatly reduces their risk of pneumonia.”

Click here to continue reading this article.