Aspiration Pneumonia

A leading cause for hospitalization of Long-Term Care residents is aspiration pneumonia, an inflammation of the lungs caused by aspirating foreign material. When healthy people aspirate, their normal body defense mechanisms usually clear the material without complications; however, seniors may be incapable of coughing upp the foreign material.
 

CAUSES:



  • Chronic gum infection
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).
  • Stroke.
  • Sedation medication.
  • Dementia.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
     

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • Schedule a dental exam to evaluate and treat any chronic gum infection.
  • Consult with a dentist to evaluate the bite and the ability to chew food properly.
  • Test swallowing function.
  • Address concerns regarding risks for aspiration with the Long Term Care Facility staff.
  • It is very important to have more frequent periodic dental cleanings with a professional hygienist to maintain healthy gums, train the staff in proper daily oral hygiene, and monitor for any changes.