What Is The Link Between Pneumonia And Sleeping In Dentures?

Posted on: 8 May 2015

Pneumonia is terrifying at any age, but for older individuals, it is even more so. Nearly 30% of elderly patients who contract pneumonia die from the disease each year. When protecting yourself, or your loved ones, from this illness, it is important to consider all risk factors. A recent study in the International and American Associations for Dental Research found sleeping in dentures doubles the risk of contracting pneumonia.

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of the airspaces in the lungs.  The fluid buildup results in decreased oxygen being absorbed throughout the body, as well as a lowered immune system. Most cases of pneumonia are viral, meaning supportive care is the only option; there are no antibiotics for viral pneumonia. Potentially deadly complications include sepsis, pleural effusion and empyema.


Common symptoms of pneumonia are severe cough, chest pain, difficulty breathing or pain when trying to breathe, high fever, and a chesty cough. In addition, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are also typical, leading to dehydration which decreases the body's ability to fight the infection.

Dentures and Pneumonia

Sleeping in dentures can cause aspiration pneumonia which is caused by inhaling vomit or saliva into the lungs. Aspiration pneumonia is just as dangerous as other types and like viral pneumonia, supportive care is the only option.

When you sleep in your dentures, saliva and bacteria collect in them. When you inhale during sleep, tiny droplets of saliva are breathed into your lungs, which over time can increase the likelihood of contracting the illness.

In addition, people who wear dentures to sleep are less likely to clean their dentures and practice good dental hygiene practices, further increasing the chance of infection. Combined with the lowered immune system in older individuals, this can lead to a high chance of contracting pneumonia.

What You Can Do

At all ages, proper dental hygiene is important. For older individuals, keeping the dentures clean is important; they should be cleaned at least daily, with a solution containing peroxide. If possible, do not sleep in your dentures. If this is not an option, as is the case with sleep apnea, talk to your dentist about getting a special device which will keep the airways open without increasing your risk of pneumonia. In addition, anyone over the age of 65 should receive the pneumococcal vaccination to further decrease the risk of infection.

Pneumonia is a frightening illness, but with a little bit of preparation, you can decrease your chances of becoming sick. Following the above tips will help you to safely live with dentures, so you can continue to live a full and happy life. If you have questions about cleaning your dentures to avoid infections that may lead to pneumonia, then contact a clinic like the Calgary denture clinic.