Preoperative dental care may reduce postoperative complications after cancer surgery


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Preoperative oral care by a dentist could significantly reduce postoperative complications in patients who undergo cancer surgery, finds a new study published in the British Journal of Surgery .

The findings come at a time when there is interest in the potential benefits of oral care by dentists for reducing complications, with studies showing oral care by dentists to be significantly better than routine oral care in terms of reducing ventilator‐associated pneumonia. However, until now it has been unclear whether preoperative oral care can reduce postoperative pneumonia and mortality.

For this latest study, researchers analysed data on 509,179 patients who underwent resection of head and neck, oesophageal, gastric, colorectal, lung, or liver cancer between May 2012 and December 2015 from the nationwide administrative claims database in Japan. Of these, 81,632 (16%) patients received preoperative oral care from a dentist. 

Some 15,724 patients (3.09%) developed postoperative pneumonia and 1,734 (0.34%) died within 30 days of surgery. The authors found preoperative oral care by a dentist was significantly associated with a decrease in postoperative pneumonia (3.28% versus 3.76%) and all-cause mortality within 30 days of surgery (0.30% versus 0.42%).

“The findings could help improve strategies for the prevention of postoperative complications,” the authors said. 

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