Gum disease could raise risk for severe COVID-19

Gum disease could raise risk for COVID-19

A recent study suggests gum disease could raise your risk for severe COVID-19.

Previous research showed that it’s blood vessels, not airways, that are affected initially in COVID lung disease. Now, new research finds that high concentrations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in saliva and gum disease (periodontitis) are linked with an increased risk of death from COVID.

This current study reports that SARS-CoV-2 can get into the lungs through the saliva, with the virus moving straight from the mouth to the bloodstream, particularly in people with gum disease.

“This model may help us understand why some individuals develop COVID-19 lung disease and others do not,” said study co-author Dr. Iain Chapple, a professor of periodontology at the University of Birmingham in England. “It could also change the way we manage the virus — exploring cheap or even free treatments targeted at the mouth and, ultimately, saving lives.”

As the virus reaches the bloodstream, it can then travel through neck and chest veins to reach the heart before being pumped into blood vessels of the lungs, according to the researchers.

Dental plaque accumulation and gum inflammation further increase the likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 reaching the lungs and causing more severe infection, researchers said.

Chapple explained that gum disease makes the gums “leakier,” allowing microorganisms to enter the blood. Careful brushing and flossing to reduce plaque buildup, as well as mouthwashes or even salt-water rinses could help lower concentration of the virus in saliva, he said.

These steps could “help mitigate the development of lung disease and reduce the risk of deterioration to severe COVID-19,” Chapple said in a university news release.

The findings were published April 20 in the Journal of Oral Medicine and Dental Research.

Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology has found that people with advanced gum disease are much more likely to suffer complications from coronavirus, including being more likely to require a ventilator and to die from the disease.

In short, clean gums can only help reduce your risk of complications due to COVID-19. This can be prevented by regular dental visits, diligent brushing/flossing, and possibly deep cleaning if gum disease is present and active.

At AdVance Dental’s blog page we also have info about the link between periodontal disease to stroke and diabetes. You can also read about how some foods can make it harder for bacteria to colonize on teeth here.

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