Last Updated on May 22, 2023 by Dr Gustavo Assatourians DDS
Gum Disease and Covid-19
The new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in 2019 and then in no time, it became clear that the novel coronavirus is no ordinary viral infection. It was first thought to mainly affect the lungs but throughout the pandemic, it has become clear that this is not the case. It was declared a pandemic by WHO on 11th March 2020.
Every COVID-19 infected individual reacts to an infection in different ways, some people loss their sense of taste and smell while others have a high-grade fever, breathing difficulties, and fatigue for weeks. With increasing evidence, some reports of hair loss, blood clots, and rashes have also been seen due to COVID-19.
While COVID-19 can affect multiple organs in the body, including the kidneys and liver, the main cause of mortality is due to the infectious ability of SARS-CoV-2 against the respiratory tract, leading to pneumonia. With unfolding information about COVID-19 infection, it has become clear that it may have an impact on oral health as well and oral health has a huge impact on the general health of an individual. Recent research has found that the presence of gum diseases can be associated with severe COVID-19 outcomes and several other medical conditions. It is important to know gum and oral health diseases to understand the connecting link between oral health and increased risk of COVID-19 complications in the body.
Gum disease constitute a common type of dental condition that affects the supporting structures of the teeth such as the gum tissues and the bones surrounding the teeth. They are grouped as chronic inflammatory diseases characterized by the presence of swelling and bleeding in gums and bone destroying periodontal tissues and eventual tooth loss.
Diseases of gum and supporting structures are different from tooth decay in terms that they cause holes in the bones that support the roots of the teeth whereas tooth decay causes the formation of cavities and increased sensitivity in the teeth. diseases of gums and the supporting structures of teeth are fairly common in the general population and are commonly caused by negligence, improper oral hygiene practices, and ignored oral care guidelines by dental healthcare professionals.
It is a well-known fact that tooth decay and gum diseases are the main signs of poor oral hygiene but with advancing research it has become evident that it is also closely related to the increased risk of lung infection and pneumonia.
In a healthy oral cavity, good and bad microbacterium exist in harmony. With poor oral hygiene and irregular dental visits, a build-up of dental plaque happens which causes an imbalance and an increase in the growth of harmful disease-causing bacteria leading to increased cavitation, gum diseases, and spread to the other parts of the body, especially lungs.
COVID-19 and Gums
Our body responds to bacterial infection through inflammation. With an increased load of harmful pathogens in the oral cavity, swelling of gums with bleeding is seen as one of the first symptoms. This mechanism is best explained by the term ‘cytokine storm’, which is associated with an exuberant inflammatory response to a bacterial infection leading to tissue destruction throughout the body.
Similarly, during gum inflammation, bacteria from dental plaque can lead to periodontal disease; this is advanced gum disease, which affects the supporting tissues of the teeth causing the bone around them to break down. When this breakdown happens, this allows the entry of bacteria and inflammatory products to enter the bloodstream and other body organs causing potential tissue damage.
Our immune systems can usually prevent the bacteria from causing problems but when our immune systems are low or busy fighting off another virus or infection the lungs can become inflamed and there is a risk of it leading to bronchitis or pneumonia. Additionally, it can make chronic lung disease conditions even worse. Studies have reported that patients with associated gum diseases and covid 19 are at least three times more likely to experience complications than patients with the sound oral condition.
Methods to Prevent Gum Disease
There is growing evidence that suggests that gum disease and covid increase the risk and complications in patients. However, maintaining good oral hygiene with a regular visit to your dentist will not only prevent this from happening but also keep your teeth and body healthy. Following are the few things that can help you stay strong and healthy:
- Maintain a healthy balanced diet to keep yourself and your immune system healthy and strong.
- Brush and floss your teeth carefully along the gum line more than once a day using a manual or powered toothbrush.
- Avoid eating or snacking throughout the day, particularly on highly processed and sugary foods. This can increase the levels of bacteria and food debris in your oral cavity that can lead to gum diseases and tooth decay.
- Sleep is important for the body to repair and restore the physical, mental, and immune health of an individual. Quality sleep not only helps to restore bodies’ physical health but also helps to repair and build immunity to fight infections.
- Elderly ages are more likely to suffer from gum inflammation and COVID-19 should keep their appointments regular with the dentist.
- Well, you cannot stop COVID-19 with your toothbrush but you can reduce its severity and complications.
- At Channel Islands Family Dental Office, Dentist in Oxnard, we always guide our patients to maintain proper oral hygiene with regular brushing and use of specific mouthwashes or toothpaste to reduce inflammation in gums and reduce cavity formation.
- Visit your dentist for regular check-ups.
Hospitals and emergency room doctors need to take a moment with each new patient to check them for gum disease and covid 19 to prevent further complications. Dentists should educate their patients about life-threatening diseases and their high-risk association with diseases of gums and surrounding structures of teeth.
At the Channel Islands Family Dental office, we provide a wide range of dental services at our various branches. Improve your smile and health with us. Feel free to call and book your appointments today with our Dentist in Oxnard, Newbury Park, and Port Hueneme.