Pneumonia is a very common condition which affects a huge number of people. In many cases, especially in hospital, it can be life-threatening. Trying to treat pneumonia can be challenging. However, new research has found that daily toothbrushing can lower the rate of pneumonia in hospitalized patients. This unexpected finding underlines the importance of oral health!

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Over the festive period, we all typically like to indulge in various treats. For many, drinking wine is a great way to unwind and relax over the holidays.

Hospitalized patients run the risk of catching Pneumonia – which has the potential to be a deadly disease. In fact, around 50,000 people die every year in the United States from the condition [1].

Trying to overcome pneumonia can be very challenging. However, recent research has suggested that there is a very inexpensive and easy tool that can reduce the rates of pneumonia in hospitalized patients – the simple act of toothbrushing [2]!

This surprising finding underlines the importance of brushing your teeth – both from an oral and physical health standpoint.

About Pneumonia

Pneumonia is defined by the NHS as inflammation of the lungs, which is normally caused by an infection [3]. As mentioned earlier, it can be life-threatening.

This is especially the case for young children, babies, those over 65, or those with existing lung or cardiovascular conditions [3].

Pneumonia is often caught in hospital, which is termed as “Hospital-acquired Pneumonia” [2]. This occurs when bacteria in the mouth enters a patient’s airways – infecting their lungs [2].

The Research

A team of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute looked into this topic. Their findings have been published in JAMA Internal Medicine [2].

The team combined the results of 15 existing clinical trials that had focused on hospital-acquired pneumonia, along with toothbrushing [2].

These clinical trials included more than 2,700 hospitalized patients [2]. This provided a large number of patients to research – providing valuable findings.

The team looked to compare those with hospital-acquired pneumonia that had regular toothbrushing against those didn’t engage in toothbrushing [2].

Furthermore, there was also a focus on patients on ventilators. Use of ventilators is common in hospitals, especially for those with longer visits to a hospital.

Interestingly, the team found that daily toothbrushing was associated with a significantly lower risk for hospital-acquired pneumonia [2]. The results showed that those that hadn’t brushed their teeth were likelier to contract pneumonia.

Moreover, the research also showed that those with pneumonia that had been transferred to an intensive care unit (ICU) also had a better chance of survival when brushing their teeth daily [2].

Therefore, this resulted in fewer days on mechanical ventilation and a shorter overall stay in the ICU [2]. These findings consistently showed the benefits of toothbrushing for hospitalized patients.

What this means

The findings of this research underlines the importance of regular toothbrushing. This includes for those that are most vulnerable – those in hospitals.

This research suggests that hospitals need to implement an oral health routine for patients, as it can greatly improve survival rates.

The research team commented on the findings. Michael Klompas, physician at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, said that toothbrushing “may save lives” [4].

Moreover, Klompas said that it is “rare in the world of hospital preventative medicine to find something that is both effective and cheap” yet highly effective, as seen in this case with toothbrushing [4].

Looking ahead to the future, Klompas said that the team hopes their findings will “help catalyze policies and programs to ensure that hospitalized patients regularly brush their teeth” [4]. They have suggested that if the patient is too ill to do this themselves, that they ask a healthcare assistant to assist.

This definitely appears to have the potential to have a very effective impact on those in hospital. It can also lessen hospital wait times and improve the turnover of patients.

Thinking points…

1) As seen in this research, regular toothbrushing is extremely important. But another crucial thing to do is attend regular dental check-ups. Dental check-ups provide a dentist with the chance to take a look at your oral health in detail, check for signs of gum disease or any other problems, and make some recommendations. After all, early detection is key! We recommend booking an appointment now!

2) If you know someone that is currently in hospital, or is likely to be going soon, you could share this article with them now. This will remind them of the importance of brushing their teeth while in hospital. It could aid their overall health and potentially save their life! We recommend sharing now!

What we offer at Taradale Dental

Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a wide range of dental treatment options and advice aimed at improving their oral health.

We advise our patients to attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a dental check-up. If any problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals. To try and prevent problems, it is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly.

Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, tooth whitening and Invisalign™! Our patients find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.

In addition, the fees of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are set in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide.

We would love you to visit our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Pneumonia. Available: Last accessed: 22nd December 2023.

[2] Ehrenzeller, S., & Klompas, M. (2023). Association Between Daily Toothbrushing and Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia. JAMA Internal Medicine. (Pre-publication issue). DOI:

[3] NHS. (2023). Pneumonia. Available: Last accessed: 22nd December 2023.

[4] Brigham & Women’s Hospital. (2023). Daily toothbrushing tied to lower rates of pneumonia among hospitalized patients. Available: Last accessed: 22nd December 2023.