Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, work has been ongoing around the world to identify the various risk factors for COVID-19, ranging from characteristics like age, obesity and diabetes, to less obvious variables like Vitamin D deficiency and oral health.
In recent months we have seen research that suggests some commercially available mouthwashes can eliminate virus particles in the mouth and throat, and now there are indications that gum disease may play a significant part in elevating COVID-19 risk.
A study published in the European Federation of Periodontology’s (EFP’s) Journal of Clinical Periodontology (JCP) connects periodontitis, an inflammation of the gums around the teeth, with worse outcomes for patients who contract COVID-19.
Periodontitis already has negative consequences for individuals, as it can cause the gum tissue to shrink, leading to loose and missing teeth, and increasing the risk of painful infections.
Now it has been correlated with severe COVID-19 cases, making it even more important to maintain good dental health and effective teeth cleaning practices.
What are the risks of COVID-19 and poor oral health?
The JCP study looked at more than 500 patients in Qatar, where electronic medical and dental records are kept together, allowing oral health and COVID-19 to be tracked in combination.
Researchers linked gum disease with several worse outcomes for COVID-19 patients:
- Higher risk of requiring intensive care treatment
- Higher risk of requiring assistive ventilation
- Higher risk of death
The effects were relatively large, with patients 3.5 times more likely to need intensive care, 4.5 times more likely to be put on a ventilator, and nearly 9 times more likely to die.
Lior Shapira, president-elect of the EFP, said: “The results of the study suggest that the inflammation in the oral cavity may open the door to the coronavirus becoming more violent. Oral care should be part of the health recommendations to reduce the risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes.”
Get help with your dental health
If you’re concerned about a dental health condition and its implications for COVID-19, or require periodontal therapy, contact Ten Dental +Facial to book an appointment – we are able to offer virtual consultations for common conditions, if you’re currently staying at home.
We can also offer in-person consultations and treatments in our COVID-secure clinics, so please don’t live with tooth pain or gum disease – we are open for business and will continue to see patients throughout the remainder of the pandemic and beyond.