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 percent 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 percent) developed postoperative pneumonia and 1734 (0.34 percent) died within 30 days of surgery. After adjustments, preoperative oral care by a dentist was linked with a decrease in postoperative pneumonia (3.28 percent versus 3.76 percent) and death within 30 days (0.30 percent versus 0.42 percent).
“The findings could help improve strategies for the prevention of postoperative complications,” the authors write.