Since the pandemic was announced in March of 2020, researchers have worked tirelessly to understand the virus and its contributing factors. From early on the virus seemed to mysteriously affect some people more severely than others, causing extreme complications or even death. We have learned more about the virus however and now know that certain health complications, like heart disease and diabetes, put individuals at higher risk. We have also recently discovered the connection between gum disease and severe COVID-19 complications.
Gum Disease Increases Risk
Research shows that coronavirus patients who have been hospitalized, are far more likely to die from respiratory complications if they also suffered from periodontitis before contracting the virus. The labs from these patients revealed the presence of interleukin (IL-6) which is a harmful protein produced by periodontitis. This harmful protein can spread to the lungs and affect the respiratory system, inducing a crisis, and putting patients in critical condition.
There is already a well-established connection between gum disease and heart disease, so it is not surprising that a connection exists to the respiratory system as well. What was surprising, however, was the level of connection. Researchers discovered that hospitalized patients with IL-6 levels above 80pg/ml are 22 times more likely to suffer more acute symptoms and require a ventilator compared to patients with IL-6 levels below that threshold.
What’s furthermore concerning is that the elderly population is at higher risk of developing periodontal disease, making them even more susceptible to life-threatening complications of the coronavirus. We must screen for gum disease and educate people on the risks associated with gum disease, especially in connection to the coronavirus.
Is it safe to go to the dentist?
Yes! Unfortunately, many people have stopped their regular visits to the dentist due to the nationwide lockdowns and fear of contracting the virus. However, in further researching the specifics of the virus’ transmission, it has been determined that dentistry is perfectly safe with proper precautions. Research shows that oral secretions and nasal fluid usually have lower viral concentrations than chest secretions, meaning the level of risk is not significant in terms of passing the virus from dentist to patient and vice versa.
That means that keeping your regular dental appointments and cleanings not only protects you from risk but actually helps you prevent it as well! Although it is always important to follow CDC guidelines for all other protective factors and choose a dentistry office that does the same.
Tips to Prevent Gum Disease
Now that the connection has been established, the question is, “what can you do?” Here are some tips for good oral hygiene that help to prevent gum disease.
Brush Twice A Day Everyday
Good oral hygiene begins with proper daily care. Brushing your teeth each morning and night for at least two minutes is the first step to preventing gum disease.
Daily care should also include daily flossing.
See A Dentist
Schedule a professional deep cleaning which includes a screening for periodontitis and other oral hygiene issues. Professional cleanings also help prevent the buildup of plaque which can lead to gum disease.
Eat A Nutritious Diet
Consider your daily diet and how it affects the health of your teeth and gums. Avoid sugary drinks such as soda and juice that increase bad bacteria in your mouth and contribute to tooth decay.
At Cherry Creek DDS, we are here to help you with your oral hygiene! We know that your oral health has an impact on your entire well-being, and we want you to be as happy and healthy as possible. Call today for an appointment!