Wearing dentures while sleeping can double risk of pneumonia: study

Alexandria, VA – Seniors should stick to a nighttime habit of removing their dentures before bed, suggests a recent study that found sleeping while wearing the removable devices doubles the risk of pneumonia among the elderly.

As part of the study, researchers from the Nihon University School of Dentistry in Japan examined the oral hygiene of 524 randomly selected adults 85 and older. After three years, researchers found 48 events related to pneumonia – 20 deaths and 28 acute hospitalizations. Nearly 41 percent of the 453 people who wore dentures did not remove them at night, and researchers determined those adults were at higher risk for pneumonia.

In addition, those who wore dentures while sleeping were more likely to have tongue and denture plaque, gum inflammation, a positive culture for a type of fungus (Candida albicans), and higher levels of circulating interleukin-6, which is found in inflammation and infection responses.

The study was published online Oct. 7 in the Journal of Dental Research.