What is the role of oral hygiene and dental care in the treatment of dysphagia?

Updated: Mar 20, 2020
  • Author: Nam-Jong Paik, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Elizabeth A Moberg-Wolff, MD  more...
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Answer

Oral hygiene and dental care are important. Changes in the oral milieu may occur secondary to decreased salivary production and abnormalities in swallowing. These abnormalities may result in the impaired clearance of organisms, allowing for pathogenic colonization. Dried secretions that accumulate on the tongue and palate reduce oral sensitivity and promote bacterial growth. Lemon glycerin swabs or a damp washcloth can be used to remove the secretions.

The elderly have an increased incidence of oropharyngeal colonization with respiratory pathogens, a well-known risk factor for pneumonia, making oral care extremely important in pneumonia prevention.


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