These days, the COVID-19 pandemic is on everyone’s minds, and we are all mindful of mitigating our risk to avoid the deadly disease. Like most people, you have probably been practicing social distancing, wearing a facial covering or mask, and increasing your sanitation and hygiene practices. With every action you take, you are trying to minimize the spread of the disease and your chances of catching it. Have you thought about the connection between COVID and your oral health? At Affinity Dental, we are your partner in oral health, and we want you to have all the latest information. Emerging research suggests that periodontal inflammation (gum disease) can lead to increased severity of COVID-19 symptoms. Read on to learn more about the link between your oral health and COVID-19. 

Gum disease, or periodontitis, is an infection of the tissues that surround and support the teeth. In early stages, periodontal inflammation causes gums to become red and swollen, and they may occasionally bleed. Over time, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth and form deepened spaces or pockets where more plaque collects, and bacteria multiplies. Bleeding in the gums can allow bacterial pathogens to flood into the bloodstream. Bacteria may also be inhaled, entering our bodies through the lining of the bronchial tubes leading to our lungs. Our immune systems are designed to deal with these types of invasions, but for those of us with weakened immune systems, periodontitis can have serious implications on our overall health.

What does this mean for individuals that contract COVID-19? A recent study published by the Journal of the California Dental Association suggests that periodontitis may have a troubling connection to the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. “The Mouth-COVID Connection: IL-6 Levels in Periodontal Disease ― Potential Role in COVID-19-Related Respiratory Complications” by Shervin Molayem, DDS, and Carla Cruvinel Pontes, DDS, PhD, examined the link between periodontal disease and COVID-19-related respiratory complications. The study found that patients with periodontal inflammation face an increased risk of some severe symptoms caused by COVID-19. Because high levels of oral bacteria can greatly affect lung function, patients with periodontal inflammation may face an increased risk of pneumonia and COVID-19-related pulmonary complications. 

The author’s findings suggest that the control and prevention of periodontitis can have an important effect on minimizing this increased risk of severe COVID symptoms. According to the study, successful control of periodontal inflammation can be beneficial to the lungs and potentially decrease the severity and risk of COVID-19 respiratory problems. The study suggests that the prevention of underlying conditions that cause systemic inflammation, such as periodontitis, can improve patients’ overall health and decrease their potential for severe COVID complications. By preventing periodontitis, patients can decrease their chances of needing intensive care and mechanical ventilation due to severe COVID-19 symptoms.

 What can you do to minimize your risk? By focusing on good oral health habits, you reduce your risk of periodontitis, which may also help to mitigate your risk of severe COVID-19 complications. As your oral health provider, we are your partner, and our goal is to help you maintain optimal oral and overall health. If you are experiencing sore or swollen gums, or are concerned about any oral health issue, we urge you to call us right away. We are open for routine dental care and check-ups, and we are following all local, state, and federal health guidelines to ensure your safety. Please don’t delay taking care of your oral health – it can have serious implications for your overall health! At Affinity Dental, we are here to help. Give us a call at (619) 697-2800, or contact us here, to set up your next appointment.