By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert
For over a year now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been nervous about going out in public and maybe have even been choosing to put off routine dental care. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we now have had nearly a year to refine our infection control practices, specifically as they relate to COVID-19. We are happy to report that our abundance of precautions have been paying off to make your experience in our office extremely comfortable and safe.
It’s especially important to us to maintain an environment where our patients feel at-ease. While we have seen a vast majority of you this last year, we wanted to share the latest links between COVID-19 and your dental health and urge those of you we haven’t seen back yet to give us a call today! We know now that recent studies show a connection between oral health and COVID-19 complications. Let’s take a closer look.
The link between periodontitis and respiratory conditions
Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a gum infection resulting from poor oral hygiene that causes bacteria to build up under the gums. Periodontitis is commonly linked to tooth loss as well as severe conditions such as cardiovascular disease and certain respiratory conditions.
Findings from the CDA Journal (California Dental Association)
One primary COVID-19 complication is respiratory distress which often leads to pneumonia.
Because periodontitis is linked to respiratory conditions, researchers have been exploring the possible link between periodontitis and COVID-19-related respiratory complications.
In an October 2020 journal article, one study found that, when oral bacteria is aspirated into the lungs, it can increase the risk of pneumonia, COPD and COVID-19-related respiratory complications.
The study states, “Successful control of periodontal inflammation can be beneficial to the lungs, possibly decreasing severity and risk of COVID-19 respiratory problems.”
Findings from the British Dental Journal
A team of British researchers suspected that there is a connection between COVID-19 infection and a person’s bacterial load. In a June 2020 study, they explored the connection between a high oral bacterial load and COVID-19 pulmonary complications.
They also wanted to find out if putting a greater emphasis on an individual’s oral health could reduce ensuing CoV-2 complications.
This research team concluded that good oral hygiene is especially effective in preventing airway infections in seniors. Additionally, people with periodontal disease are at a much greater risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which contribute to severe COVID-19 side effects.
“Oral hygiene [should] be maintained, if not improved, during a SARS-CoV-2 infection in order to reduce the bacterial load in the mouth and the potential risk of bacterial superinfection.”
The ADA addresses the oral health and COVID-19 connection
In a February 12, 2021 article on the ADA website, they reference a study from the Journal of Clinical Periodontology that concludes that people with severe gum disease are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 complications.
Indeed, there is mounting evidence to suggest that good oral health helps protect people against some of the severe effects of COVID-19.