Research Suggests a Link Between Gum Disease and COVID-19

Emerging research suggests untreated gum disease can worsen the severity of lung diseases, such as COVID-19. Read on to find out more about this peer-reviewed study that “suggests that hospitalized coronavirus patients with prior underlying gum disease can be at higher risk for respiratory failure.” [1]

How Are Gum Disease and COVID-19 and Inflammation Related?

Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue and bone that hold your teeth in place. It begins when the plaque that normally forms on your teeth accumulates and hardens. There are bacteria in plaque build-up, and this bacteria causes damage and inflammation in the gum tissue, contributing to a body’s overall inflammation. The body’s overall inflammation is referred to as systemic inflammation.

Gum Disease and COVID-19 Complications from Elevated Levels of IL-6

Interleukin (IL-6) is a harmful inflammatory protein that is elevated in patients with gum disease. When a person experiences systemic inflammation, the bacteria in their gum tissue travels through the body and spreads the harmful Inflammatory IL-6 protein.

Researchers in Germany [2] found higher IL-6 protein levels to be a predictor of respiratory failure, which puts a COVID patient at a 22x higher risk of being placed on a ventilator.

What’s the Connection Between Periodontitis and Lung Function?

Periodontitis affects COPD, lung function, and pneumonia for COVID-19. Periodontitis and poor plaque control can also affect respiratory complications in COVID-19 patients.

These respiratory complications are the leading cause of hospitalization, ventilation, and, ultimately, mortality. Therefore, adequate and regular periodontal and general dental care are essential in improving and sustaining overall health.

Improving Your Oral Health Can Help Reduce Inflammation

What can you do to reduce inflammation concerning your oral health? Solutions include increasing regular good oral hygiene practices, such as proper brushing and flossing twice a day, mouthwash and regular visits to your dentist and periodontists.

For several months, dental and periodontal offices closed to help reduce transmission of COVID-19 and were only seeing patients for emergency dental health concerns. Dental and periodontal offices in Rochester NY are now open once again and seeing patients for their regularly scheduled check-ups.

Researchers indicate that professional cleanings and periodontal treatments should be continued.

“It is worth the risk of going to dental office, considering increased risk for COVID-19 respiratory problems in untreated periodontitis.” (

Prompt periodontal treatment lowers inflammation, cytokines, and IL-6. This helps to decrease the severity of respiratory complications associated with COVID-19.

“In hospitalized patients, intense dental therapy can help prevent respiratory infections.” (

Experts also recommend a regular diet of anti-inflammatory foods and a decrease in overall sugar and processed carbohydrate consumption to decrease IL-6.

Rescheduling Your Missed Periodontal Visit From COVID-19 Closure

With the temporary closure of dental and periodontal offices, dentists and periodontists, unfortunately, see a higher rate of inflammation in their patients. This once again confirms the importance of regular tooth and gum care as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Dental Implants & Periodontal Health of Rochester is committed to the safety and health of our patients and care team, as we continue to learn and adapt to the new regulations surrounding COVID-19.

We continue to follow the infection control recommendations and guidelines issued by the American Dental Association (ADA), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New York State, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

We are here for you. Please feel free to contact us with any questions and to schedule your periodontal appointment. 585-685.2005.



[1] Dental Products Report,

[2] The Mouth-COVID Connection, IL-6 Levels in Periodontal Disease, Potential Role in COVID-19-Related Respiratory Complications, Dr. Shervin Molayem DDS, Dr. Carla Cruvinel Pontes DDS,


Board Certified Periodontist

Dr. Thomas Zahavi is a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. He completed his post-graduate periodontal education at the Eastman Dental Center at the University of Rochester in 2006.

Dr. Zahavi obtained his combined DMD and Master’s degree Summa Cum Laude from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1997). He then pursued a speciality program in Prosthodontics (the restoration and replacement of teeth), receiving the highest honors in the residency program (2001). In 2003 he relocated with his family to the USA in pursuit of a residency program in Periodontology at the University of Rochester/ Eastman Institute for Oral Health. He was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from the American Academy of Periodontology Foundation and honored with a research fellowship from a major dental implant company. He is a Board-Certified Periodontist (USA) and Prosthodontist (Israel). His clinical experience and training in the two specialities proves to be invaluable, especially in patients requiring comprehensive periodontal and implant treatments.

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