Dentures May House Respiratory Pathogens

Image courtesy of artur84 at


Image courtesy of artur84 at

An article in the Journal of Prosthodontics notes a relationship between dental plaque and pulmonary infection, particularly in elderly individuals. With one in 5 adults in the United Kingdom currently wearing a denture, the authors explain, there is a gap in the understanding of the direct implications of denture plaque on systemic health.

The researchers sought a comprehensive evaluation of putative respiratory pathogens residing on dentures using a targeted quantitative molecular approach. During the study, 130 patients’ dentures were sonicated to remove denture plaque biofilm from the surface.

DNA was extracted from the samples and assessed for the presence of respiratory pathogens by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Ct values then were used to approximate the number of corresponding colony forming equivalents (CFEs) based on standard curves.

Of the dentures, 64.6% were colonized by known respiratory pathogens, with 6 species identified: Streptococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Haemophilus influenzae B, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Moraxella catarrhalis. P. aeruginosa was the most abundant species followed by S. pneumoniae and S. aureus in terms of average CFE and overall proportion of denture plaque.

Of the participants, 37% suffered from denture stomatitis. However, there were no significant differences in the prevalence of respiratory pathogens on dentures between healthy and inflamed mouths.

The researchers concluded that dentures can act as a reservoir for potential respiratory pathogens in the oral cavity, increasing the theoretical risk of developing aspiration pneumonia. Implementation of routine denture hygiene practices could help to reduce the risk of respiratory infection among the elderly.

The full article is available at the Wiley Online Library.