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Patients Own Dental Plaque may Cause Ventilator-associated Pneumonia

s of plaque from teeth and of secretions from the trachea were obtained from ICU patients on the day of admission and every third day thereafter, up to 21 days. Bronchial alveolar lavage samples also were collected from those suspected of having developed pneumonia.

Samples from nine patients who were found to have the pathogens of interest in their plaque and were suspected of having pneumonia were selected for analysis. Protein and DNA profiles of pathogens in plaque and in bronchial alveolar lavage samples were identified using a process called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis.

Results showed that genetic profiles of bacteria from tracheal and bronchial samples of the nine patients with pneumonia were identical to profiles of bacteria from their dental plaque.

"These results suggest that the teeth likely serve as an important reservoir of infection in these patients," said Heo. "To prevent opportunistic, hospital-acquired disease, taking care of teeth and gums while hospitalized might be especially important."

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