New research now published in the journal mSphere examines the effects of poor dental hygiene on the respiratory health of elderly Japanese people. The recent results shed light on the importance of the tongue microbiota for our respiratory health.
As Dr. Yamashita and his colleagues explain in their paper, the oral microbiota is important for overall health because the bacteria we ingest affect every aspect of our health.
Also, explain the authors of the new research, not only do the bacteria in our tongue microbiota reach our guts, but seniors are also particularly likely to inhale some of these microorganisms.
Problems such as difficulty swallowing and cough reflux may cause the elderly to accidentally inhale bacteria that could lead to pulmonary infections such as pneumonia.
The main bacteria identified were Prevotella histicola, Veillonella atypica, Streptococcus salivarius,and Streptococcus parasanguinis.
Previous studies, say the researchers, have linked these microorganisms with a higher risk of death from pneumonia.
These bacteria were found predominantly in seniors with more plaque, more cavities, and fewer teeth. Additionally, the study found more fungi in these seniors’ microbiotas, as well as among those who wore dentures.