Oral health, Saliva, Xerostomia, Ventilator-associated pneumonia, Periodontitis



  1. Fehder, William P. PhD, CRNA


Oral health is receiving increased recognition as an important factor for the health of women and children. This article describes pathological oral conditions and the physiological mechanisms involved in the maintenance of oral health during illness and hospitalization, including the importance of the production and secretion of adequate saliva. Alterations in physiology of saliva induced by hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy are described along with possible roles in pathophysiological conditions associated with pregnancy. The roles of xerostomia and periodontal disease as sources of pathological bacteria involved in aspiration pneumonia, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and chronic inflammation are described. The bidirectional interaction between oral health and general overall health is described, with special emphasis on cardiovascular disease. Specific evidence-based nursing measures to reduce the complications associated with poor oral health in at-risk patients are provided.