Patients ill with COVID-19 who also have inflamed and infected gums due to periodontal disease are at an increased likelihood of developing severe complications or dying than individuals who have healthy gums. This is the conclusion of a recent international study conducted by McGill University researchers in Canada.
Published inside the pages of the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, the study’s findings were that COVID-19 patients with periodontal disease experience rates of intensive care unit admission that are 3.5 times higher than those without both COVID-19 and gum disease. Additionally, these individuals were 4.5 times as likely to require a ventilator. The study also found that these patients were at an 8.8 times higher likelihood of being fatality in comparison to those without periodontal disease.
The researchers concluded that proper oral hygiene is extremely important in preventing and managing the complications arising from COVID-19. A strong correlation was found between disease outcomes and periodontal disease.
Commonly known as gum disease, periodontal disease is a condition that causes the gum tissue to become inflamed and infected, potentially threatening the loss of the teeth. The condition is caused by the presence of plaque, which is a sticky film adhering to the surfaces of teeth. Plaque creates acids because of the presence of bacteria, further leading to the destruction of gum tissue if the condition is not detected early and treated properly.
Gum disease is an extremely common dental problem among Canadians, with 70 percent being affected by the disease, according to the Canadian Dental Association. Gum disease tends to start slowly without any pain or discomfort. As it progresses, it results in tender, bleeding gums and chronic infection. The condition can be prevented if the individual maintains proper oral hygiene by brushing their teeth twice daily and flossing once a day, as well as maintaining regular dental exams and checkups.
Gum disease has been found to be a risk factor for a wide variety of both oral and systemic diseases. It is believed that inflammation due to gum disease can travel elsewhere in the body. For example, gum disease has been linked to cardiovascular disease.
The McGill study’s researchers believe that there is a strong connection between the inflammation associated with gum disease and the inflammation caused by COVID-19. The combined inflammation from these two conditions may be too much for a COVID-19 patient to bear, leading to an increase in complications and their severity.
The study followed the progression of 568 Qatari COVID-19 patients. It was found that those with both COVID-19 and gum disease had higher levels of certain biomarkers that indicate bodily inflammation. The researchers feel that this may reveal why these patients are experiencing higher rates of complications.
At Guelph Royal Dental Centre – Guelph Dentist Office, we care about your oral health and strive to provide you with the best possible treatment and care. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.
DISCLAIMER: The advice offered is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. It is no way to offer a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendations for your particular situation. Any advice provided is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified dentist.