(HealthDay News) — Seniors who wear their dentures when they sleep are at increased risk for pneumonia, according to a study published online Oct. 7 in the Journal of Dental Research.

The study included 524 men and women, average age about 88, who were followed for three years. During that time, there were 28 hospitalizations and 20 deaths from pneumonia. Among the 453 denture wearers, the 41 percent who wore their dentures when they slept were about twice (2.3-fold) as likely to develop pneumonia as those who removed their dentures at night, according to study author Toshimitsu Iinuma, D.D.S., Ph.D., of the Nihon University School of Dentistry in Tokyo, and colleagues.

The risk of pneumonia associated with wearing dentures at night is comparable with the high risk of pneumonia linked with mental impairment, history of stroke, and respiratory disease, the researchers said. The researchers also found that seniors who wore their dentures while sleeping were more likely to have problems such as tongue and denture plaque and gum inflammation.

The implications of the study findings are straightforward — seniors should be told not to wear their dentures while they sleep, Frauke Müller, D.D.S., Ph.D., of the University of Geneva in Switzerland, writes in an accompanying commentary.

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