PURPOSE: Recent studies have established a relationship between dental plaque and pulmonary infection, particularly in elderly individuals. Given that approximately one in five adults in the UK currently wears a denture, there remains a gap in our understanding of the direct implications of denture plaque on systemic health. The aim of this study was to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of putative respiratory pathogens residing upon dentures using a targeted quantitative molecular approach.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: One hundred and thirty patients' dentures were sonicated to remove denture plaque biofilm from the surface. DNA was extracted from the samples and was assessed for the presence of respiratory pathogens by qunatitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Ct values were then used to approximate the number of corresponding colony forming equivalents (CFEs) based on standard curves.
RESULTS: Of the dentures, 64.6% were colonized by known respiratory pathogens. Six species were 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.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that dentures can act as a reservoir for potential respiratory pathogens in the oral cavity, thus 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 population.