Dr Samit Joshi of Yale University School of Medicine found changes in bacteria in the mouth preceded the development of pneumonia.
He concluded that this process “suggests that changes in oral bacteria play a role in the risk for developing pneumonia”.
Pneumonia is thought to affect more than 620,000 people in the UK and claims the lives of around five per cent of those who contract the disease.
Studies have even suggested a higher mortality rate from pneumonia in people with higher numbers of gum problems.
The findings of the study present further evidence that there’s a significant health risk to the elderly and the young, according to Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter.
“Simply brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning in between teeth daily with interdental brushes or floss, cutting down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks and visiting the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend will be a great starting point.
The research was presented at the Infectious Diseases Society of America annual meeting in Boston looked at 37 subjects for a one-month period.