Cheaper and Simpler Oral Care for Pneumonia Prevention

July 24, 2020

Washington, D.C. – July 24, 2020 – A new study has found that active ingredients in mouthwash have the potential to prevent bacterial pneumonia. The research is presented at ASM Microbe Online, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Pneumonia affects 450 million people worldwide each year, including 4 million deaths. The study demonstrates that the active ingredients in everyday mouthwashes have an antibacterial effect against pneumonia-causing pathogens, suggesting that regular oral care using mouthwash may lead to simpler and cheaper pneumonia prevention.

The researchers clinically isolated bacteria from sputum, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa), Klebsiella pneumoniae (K. pneumoniae), Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pnrumoniae), and Haemophilus influenzae (H. influenzae). These are frequently detected in aspiration pneumonia and nursing- and healthcare- associated pneumonia. The researchers examined whether these bacteria could be killed by exposing them to concentrations of oral antiseptics, like those found in mouthwashes, particularly 0.01% chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG), 0.004% cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), or 0.1% 1,8-cineole. Considering that gargle time may be different for each individual, they also examined whether the antibacterial effect could be detected after exposure for 10, 20, 30, and 60 seconds, typical durations for gargling.

“Our work suggests that existing CPC-containing mouthwashes should have high antibacterial effects, even at a lower concentration (0.002%),” said Ayami Karita, Health Care Science, Graduate School, Bunkyo Gakuin University, Japan. Although CPC has been reported to have side effects, good number of elderly people whose mucous membranes are fragile should be able to comfortably use it at lower concentrations. CHG’s antibacterial effects depended upon the type of bacteria, but the effects were evident even at concentrations of 0.12% or lower, concentrations previously recommended for the ventilator-associated pneumonia. However, 1,8-cineole was only weakly antibacterial.

“We already know that pneumonia prevention is a global issue and if frequent, advanced oral care can prevent pneumonia, then our method is more feasible than any out there,” said Karita. “This is especially important in geriatrics and elder care, which often lacks resources for more comprehensive pneumonia prevention.”

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Author: ASM Communications

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