Periodontitis Linked to Severity of COVID-19?

  • Mar 17 2021

Have new study results found a link between periodontitis and more extreme COVID-19 symptoms?

Whether they follow through or not, there aren’t very many who could truthfully claim to not know how important it is to practice good oral hygiene. This includes consistently brushing, flossing, and keeping those regular appointments for dental exams and cleanings. Simple enough, right? What isn’t simple is just how important these ordinary, everyday actions can be.

Besides avoiding issues with tooth decay, which can quickly undermine an otherwise attractive smile, failing to do these simple tasks for maintaining dental health can lead to gum disease, and that opens up an entirely new array of health problems. 

Periodontal disease, which is the technical term for gum disease, is a serious infection all by itself, often requiring painful, expensive treatment. Even more worrisome, periodontal disease has been shown to increase the likelihood of developing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Research is ongoing exploring suspected links to rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.    

Periodontal Disease and COVID

As if all of the currently known links to serious health conditions weren’t enough, a new study published in the Journal of Periodontology, reported on the connection between periodontal disease and the worsening of symptoms associated with COVID-19. That study concluded:

Periodontitis was associated with a higher risk of ICU admission, need for assisted ventilation and death of COVID‐19 patients, and with increased blood levels of biomarkers linked to worse disease outcomes.”

It goes without saying that one study is not enough to be the final word on what appears to be such a strong connection between gum disease and the virus that is so aggressively attacking people all over the world. The authors of the study acknowledge the need for more research. That said, it is believed that the correlation between the two is likely caused by chronic inflammation, which goes with gum infection, intensifying the body’s response to the virus. 

Preventing Gum Disease

Even if we ignore the ramifications of this new study linking gum disease to more serious outcomes with COVID, there are already plenty of good reasons to do whatever we can to keep our gums as healthy as possible. This brings us back to brushing and flossing every day and regular dental visits. It’s also important to be aware of certain behaviors and risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing gum disease. Besides poor oral hygiene, some of the most common ones include: 

  • Genetics
  • Aging
  • Pregnancy, menopause, or other times of hormonal change
  • Poor nutrition, especially leading to a deficiency of vitamin C
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Drug abuse
  • Taking medications with a side-effect of saliva reduction
  • Comprised immune system, often from treatments targeting cancer or HIV
  • Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes

Some of these risk factors are within your control and others, obviously, are not. Being aware of them is still important. Avoiding gum disease is a partnership including you and your dentist, so be sure to talk about any risk factors that may affect the health of your gums.  

If you have questions about any of our services, whether dentistry or aesthetics, Forest Hills Dentistry is dedicated to delivering the highest quality services possible. We offer the latest and most current information and services to our patients with a new state-of-the-art facility in Forest Hills, Queens. Patient comfort, individualized care, and complete satisfaction are our priority. 

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Categories: Periodontics