Our mouth harbors over 700 types of bacteria with varying effects on our health. Some of these microorganisms are beneficial, some harmful, and others have benefits or harms yet unknown. Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia can occur when harmful bacteria from the mouth enter the lungs.
With recent research, the importance of good oral hygiene for hospitalized patients is gaining attention.
Last year, during a visit to San Francisco, I had lunch with Dina Gripenstraw, a registered nurse and lymphatic massage therapist with whom I connected on Instagram. Dina has an aura of empathy and wisdom, and our conversation largely revolved around the role of the lymphatic system in immunity.
However, she also shared that years ago, while working as a bedside nurse, she observed that good oral hygiene helped prevent pneumonia.Unfortunately, perhaps because Dina was “just a nurse”, her research did not receive the recognition it deserved.
Sometimes, simple solutions are overlooked, despite their effectiveness.
Nurse Dina, we applaud your attentive patient care and your keen sense of observation.
You were just ahead of your time.
To read about Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia go to
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Linda Cooper Esposito, MPH is a health educator with bronchiectasis. She developed the BE CLEAR Method to Living with Bronchiectasis and writes with compassion and humor about this chronic lung disease.