Gum Disease Linked to Severe COVID-19 Symptoms

Periodontitis (gum disease) has long been associated with systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia and Alzheimers. In periodontal disease, increased levels of pathogenic bacteria lead to a chronic inflammatory response that can, if untreated, cause significant damage to the mouth. Furthermore, chronic inflammation is the link between periodontal disease and other systemic diseases. 

A recent study found that COVID-19 patients who had periodontal disease had significantly less favorable outcomes than COVID-19 patients without periodontal disease. COVID-19 patients with periodontal disease were 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU, 4.5 times more likely to be placed on a ventilator, and almost 9 times more likely to die, when compared to COVID-19 patients without periodontal disease. Researchers believe that COVID-19 disease was exacerbated in periodontal patients due to several possible mechanisms, including increased levels of inflammatory markers in the blood, increased amounts of inhaled pathogenic bacteria from the mouth, or that the periodontal bacteria is able to increase the virulence of COVID-19 by altering glycoproteins used by the virus. Whatever the case, there is now evidence suggesting that people with periodontal disease are at higher risk of complications or death if infected with COVID-19 virus. The best way to avoid this risk factor is to practice good daily oral hygiene and to maintain your regular dental check-ups and cleanings, especially if you already have periodontal disease. 

 

Original article: Marouf, N., Cai, W., Said, K.N., Daas, H., Diab, H., Chinta, V.R., Hssain, A.A., Nicolau, B., Sanz, M. and Tamimi, F. (2021), Association between periodontitis and severity of COVID‐19 infection: a case‐control study. Journal of Clinical Periodontology. Accepted Author Manuscript. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpe.13435