Oral Hygiene as Prevention: Discovering the Links Between Oral Health, Respiratory Infection, and Sepsis


Poor oral hygiene is directly linked both to respiratory infections, like non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia (NVHAP), and to sepsis, for which NVHAP is the most common pathway in acute care settings. Because NVHAP is associated with high ICU utilization rates, increased use of antibiotics, high readmission rates, and death, and because 50-80% of NVHAP cases result from oral infections, it is important for healthcare providers to understand the close interrelationship between oral health and serious infectious complications. This is especially vital in acute care settings, where patients admitted may already have depressed immune systems, making them more prone to secondary infections including those caused by bacteria that grow in the oral cavity and actively travel to the lungs. In this webinar, attendees will review the relationships between oral health, systemic health, respiratory infection, and sepsis, and will discuss the role of oral care as a key preventative measure for complications like NVHAP and bacterial sepsis.

This activity was originally recorded on 6/22/22. 

Target Audience

Nurses, physicians, pharmacists, emergency responders, healthcare management teams, and other healthcare staff may benefit.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the presentation, the attendee should be able to:

  • Review the body of evidence on the relationship between oral health, systemic health, and respiratory infection;  
  • Discuss the epidemiology of NVHAP and sepsis in US acute care; 
  • Examine trends in incidence of non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia among patients enrolled in Medicaid from 2013-2019;
  • Discuss the role of oral care as prevention for non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia and sepsis. 
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.40 Participation
  • 1.70 RN CE Contact Hours
    Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP17068.
Course opens: 
Course expires: 

Dian Baker, PhD, NP, RN

Professor and Clinical Faculty, California State University, Sacramento School of Nursing
Professor and Clinical Faculty, University of California, Davis School of Medicine

Dian Baker, PhD, NP, RN, is a professor at the School of Nursing, California State University, Sacramento and clinical faculty at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. Dr. Baker obtained her PhD from the University of Hawaii and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in healthcare leadership at the University of California, Davis. Her recent publications on pneumonia prevention have drawn interest from hospitals and patient safety organizations across the country. Dr. Baker was the academic partner and researcher with the Sutter Health System Team that was awarded the 2018 California Healthcare Quality Institute's C. Duane Dauner Quality Award for excellence in quality and safety for their work on non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia. In 2020, Dr. Baker was part of the team granted the Award for Publication Excellence from the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology and the American Journal of Infection Control. Dr. Baker and her colleagues formed the Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia Prevention, Intervention, Research, and Education (HAPPIER) collaborative that includes nurse leaders, researchers, and partners in the UK. She is currently working to promote prevention of non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia in hospitals worldwide and is a consultant for the VA Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia Prevention by Engaging Nurses (HAPPEN) program. She is Co-Chair of the research workgroup for the National Organization to Prevent Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia (NOHAP).

Karen K. Giuliano, PhD, RN, FAAN, MBA

Co-Director, Elaine Marieb Center for Nursing and Engineering Innovation
Associate Professor (Joint), University of Massachusetts Amherst

Karen Giuliano, PhD, RN, FAAN, MBA, is currently Co-Director of the Center for Nursing and Engineering Innovation and an Associate Professor (Joint) at the Institute for Applied Life Sciences and College of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Amherst. With a clinical background in critical care and 25+ years of global experience in the development of new medical products, Dr. Giuliano has a passion for improving healthcare through innovation. Her expertise includes human-centered design and clinical outcomes research. 

Dr. Giuliano actively contributes to many professional organizations and works with small, medium, and large companies on medical product development and innovation. In addition, her own interdisciplinary program of research is focused in two main areas: non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia and IV infusion safety using IV Smart Pumps.  

Dr. Giuliano is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN), a six-sigma green belt, and holds a BSN and PhD in nursing from Boston College, nurse practitioner from the University of Massachusetts, an MBA (Global Management Concentration) from Babson College and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship on IV infusion device safety at Yale University. 

Frank A. Scannapieco, DMD, PhD

Chair and Professor of Oral Biology, University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine

Frank A. Scannapieco, DMD, PhD, is a periodontist and microbiologist. His expertise includes dental plaque and the connection between oral and overall health, particularly in at-risk populations.

His work includes the study of dental plaque formation, the effect of plaque on oral health, and the relationship between oral and systemic diseases, such as pneumonia, diabetes, and obesity.

Dr. Scannapieco was among the first to draw the connection between poor oral health and respiratory infection in intensive care and nursing home patients. His work has contributed to the now-widespread recognition of the need for oral care in hospitals and nursing homes.

Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP17068 for 1.7 contact hours.

Other healthcare providers will receive a certificate of attendance for 1.4 contact hours.

Medical Disclaimer

The information on or available through this site is intended for educational purposes only. Sepsis Alliance does not represent or guarantee that information on or available through this site is applicable to any specific patient’s care or treatment. The educational content on or available through this site does not constitute medical advice from a physician and is not to be used as a substitute for treatment or advice from a practicing physician or other healthcare provider. Sepsis Alliance recommends users consult their physician or healthcare provider regarding any questions about whether the information on or available through this site might apply to their individual treatment or care.

Available Credit

  • 1.40 Participation
  • 1.70 RN CE Contact Hours
    Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP17068.
Please login or register to take this course.

This activity includes:

  • Pre-test
  • Slides
  • Pre-recorded webinar
  • Post-test
  • Evaluation

All components must be completed to earn a certificate of attendance. This course can be completed at your convenience.