Preoperative oral care by a dentist may help reduce postoperative complications in patients who undergo cancer surgery, according to a new BJS (British Journal of Surgery) study.
Of 509,179 patients studied, 16% received preoperative oral care from a dentist. When a surgeon requested that a dentist provide preoperative oral care to a patient with cancer, the dentist checked the patient's oral condition, provided professional tooth cleaning, taught the patient self-cleaning methods for the teeth, and provided any treatment needed.
In the study, 15,724 patients (3.09%) developed postoperative pneumonia and 1734 (0.34%) died within 30 days of surgery. After adjustments, preoperative oral care by a dentist was linked with a decrease in postoperative pneumonia (3.28% versus 3.76%) and death within 30 days (0.30% versus 0.42%).
"The findings could help improve strategies for the prevention of postoperative complications," the authors wrote.