Gum disease, otherwise known as periodontal disease, affects a shocking 42.7% of the U.S. adult population over 301. Despite how common this condition is, severe gum disease left untreated poses a serious risk for contributing to or worsening a variety of health conditions, including COVID-19.
While conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease, or diabetes are more commonly discussed at large as high-risk conditions associated with negative COVID-19 outcomes, more and more studies point out the links between gum disease and COVID complications.
What Is Gum Disease And What Are The Symptoms?
Before diving into its association with COVID, let’s explore what gum disease entails. In short, gum disease is the inflammation and infection of the gums surrounding and supporting the teeth. According to the Mayo Clinic,2 a handful of the most common symptoms that point to gum disease include:
- Red and inflamed gums
- Loose teeth
- Bleeding gums
- Pus between teeth
- New gaps and spacing of teeth
What Is The Correlation Between Gum Disease and COVID Complications?
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, researchers have been hard at work to study the factors that contribute to worsening COVID-19 outcomes. One impactful study of over 500 patients by the European Federation of Periodontology found that COVID patients who also had gum disease were3:
- 5x more likely to be admitted to the ICU
- 5x more likely to use a ventilator
- Around 9x more likely to die from COVID
The astonishing correlation between worsening COVID outcomes and gum disease can be explained by a few reasons, including:
#1: Increased Inflammation
Since gum disease is an inflammation of the gums, more serious cases of periodontal disease can spread and create a systemic inflammation of the body. This can be detrimental to the patient’s health in cases of COVID-19 since systemic inflammation is already a symptom of COVID. Adding the extra inflammation from gum disease on top of COVID’s inflammation response is enough to create a much more severe case of the disease.
#2: Periodontal Biomarkers
Biomarkers are medical measures that point to the severity or presence of a physical condition or disease. Researchers found that the biomarkers associated with periodontitis patients, such as white blood cell levels, c-reactive protein, and D-dimer contributed to more severe COVID outcomes.4
#3: Inhaling Oral Bacteria
Gum disease means that a larger amount of oral bacteria lives in the mouth. If COVID-19 patients inhale the extra oral bacteria present with periodontal disease, especially with patients on a ventilator, it can infect the lungs and increase the severity of COVID’s reaction in the lungs.3
3 Ways To Take Care Of Gum Health To Prevent Severe Complications with COVID-19
Thankfully, various measures prevent serious periodontal diseases from occurring, which decreases the chances for a severe COVID case. Here are 3 simple ways to both prevent and treat gum disease:
#1: Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Maintain good oral health by brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day and also using mouthwash. Using mouthwash is crucial for removing harmful bacteria and preventing excessive plaque buildup.
#2: Regularly Visit Periodontist For Cleanings
Make sure to attend your regularly scheduled periodontal cleaning and check-up appointments. Not only will they professionally clean your teeth and gums, but they can also keep an eye on the health of your gums and can diagnose the advancement of periodontal disease.
#3: Seek Professional Assistance With Periodontists
If your dentist diagnoses you with gum disease, you will need to begin seeing a periodontist. This is because periodontists are highly-trained specialists that specialize in gum disease treatment, dental implant placement, and oral inflammation treatment. Some of the treatment options periodontists use include:
- Scaling and Root Planing
- Gum Surgery
- Soft Tissue Grafts
- Antibiotic Prescriptions
Take Charge Of Your Gum Health Today
Don’t let your gum health have a negative impact on your overall health. It is more clear than ever before that oral health is directly linked to physical health. Because of this, it is important to take charge of your gum health by working with a trusted periodontist at Dental Implants & Periodontal Health of Rochester. Our talented team offers a wide array of implants and periodontal solutions to give the best patient care today! 585-685-2005