Journal Article

Infectious Complications of Dental and Periodontal Diseases in the Elderly Population

Kenneth Shay

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 34, issue 9, pages 1215-1223
Published in print May 2002 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online May 2002 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/339865
Infectious Complications of Dental and Periodontal Diseases in the Elderly Population

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Retention of teeth into advanced age makes caries and periodontitis lifelong concerns. Dental caries occurs when acidic metabolites of oral streptococci dissolve enamel and dentin. Dissolution progresses to cavitation and, if untreated, to bacterial invasion of dental pulp, whereby oral bacteria access the bloodstream. Oral organisms have been linked to infections of the endocardium, meninges, mediastinum, vertebrae, hepatobiliary system, and prosthetic joints. Periodontitis is a pathogen-specific, lytic inflammatory reaction to dental plaque that degrades the tooth attachment. Periodontal disease is more severe and less readily controlled in people with diabetes; impaired glycemic control may exacerbate host response. Aspiration of oropharyngeal (including periodontal) pathogens is the dominant cause of nursing home—acquired pneumonia; factors reflecting poor oral health strongly correlate with increased risk of developing aspiration pneumonia. Bloodborne periodontopathic organisms may play a role in atherosclerosis. Daily oral hygiene practice and receipt of regular dental care are cost-effective means for minimizing morbidity of oral infections and their nonoral sequelae.

Journal Article.  5818 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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