Oral Health and Periodontitis Associated with the Severity of COVID-19

Over the past year, there has been significant research showing a link between severe periodontal disease and COVID-19. Specifically, that people with gum disease are more likely to need a ventilator during COVID-19 treatment. Sadly, other studies also reveal that people with periodontal infections are more likely to die from coronavirus than someone with healthy gums.

Gum Health Linked to COVID-19 Severity

Gum disease (periodontal disease) is a condition that destroys the attachment tissue that holds the roots of your teeth inside of your bone. It’s triggered by poor oral hygiene and bacteria accumulating under the surface of your gums. Common symptoms include bleeding, swelling, bad breath, gum recession, and tooth mobility. Tartar buildup is also fairly common. 

We already know that if you have gum disease, the bacteria can spread into your respiratory tract and bloodstream. Among the many different types of systemic conditions directly linked to periodontitis, respiratory disease has long been one of them. Clinical studies have long supported the fact that people with periodontal disease are more likely to develop pneumonia during hospitalization. Especially if they require intubation. 

In someone with COVID-19, periodontal disease is one of many significant risk factors. Even if you don’t know everything on your medical and dental records but do remember that periodontal therapy was recommended, you’re already at a greater risk for respiratory disease or acute respiratory distress syndrome than someone with amazing oral hygiene. 

One study showed that people who contracted COVID-19 and also had periodontal disease were three times more likely to experience COVID-19 complications, including death.

The more aggressive periodontal diseases are, the more likely you’ll be to experience major complications from a coronavirus disease. The reactive protein in your oral mucosa has the same biomarkers linked to chronic respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. The last thing you want is for a disease outcome that requires intensive care unit admission during a global pandemic. 

Why is COVID-19 Related to Gum Disease?

Some specific enzymes and cytokines are associated with gum disease and overall inflammation in our bodies. When you have chronic gum disease, those pro-inflammatory agents can affect multiple organ systems, including your lungs. 

Like periodontal disease, COVID-19 also triggers an inflammatory response. Periodontal treatment can help lower systemic inflammation as it assists you in maintaining good oral health. Oral diseases aren’t isolated to your teeth and gums. Poor oral hygiene can worsen systemic diseases, such as COVID-19.

Even with vaccinations and masking, disease control may not be 100%. But by managing your oral health, you can avoid worse disease outcomes as it relates to the data provided by the World Health Organization and CDC. 

Treating Gum Infections May Help COVID-19 Recovery

Fortunately, gum disease/periodontal disease is treatable. By achieving good oral health, you will inherently reduce the chances of complications during a COVID-19 infection, not to mention other systemic inflammation elsewhere in your body. 

Oral and systemic diseases are closely interrelated. From diabetes to chronic kidney disease, your health risk factors significantly improve as you work to achieve good periodontal health. 

By managing inflammatory infections, you can reduce the strain on your immune system and thereby help combat other types of inflammation in your body. We already know that advanced periodontitis can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and potentially even Alzheimer’s disease. 

Co-existing oral disease and COVID-19 creates the perfect storm for a life-threatening infection. Even if you are young and relatively healthy, the severity of COVID-19 can vary. Good oral health will boost your immune system, reduce overall inflammation, and lower the chances of bacteria spreading into your respiratory tract. 

Nonsurgical Periodontal Therapy

Do you have deep periodontal pockets that bleed, pack food, or harbor tartar buildup? Or dental radiographs (x-rays) that show signs of significant bone loss? Our dental team can help patients infected with severe periodontitis. 

If you have gum disease, your teeth, and oral health aren’t the only things at risk. Periodontal treatment will remove the infection causing your periodontal disease, reducing the inflammatory response of your immune system. 

As you maintain periodontal health, you won’t just lessen your risk of COVID-19 complications. You also improve your risk against heart disease, pneumonia, chronic renal disease, diabetes, respiratory infections, and other chronic diseases that could require assisted ventilation during any type of hospitalization. That way, if you do happen to contract COVID-19, you’re statistically in a better position to recover without hospitalization or requiring a ventilator. 

Treatment for periodontal diseases usually includes a series of deep cleanings to remove the bacteria causing your oral disease. When those biofilms are removed, there is less of a risk to inhale them if you have SARS COV 2. For people with more advanced periodontitis, soft tissue surgery or laser therapy may also be recommended. Ultimately our Los Angeles dentists will be working to help you achieve tissues that are free of inflammation, bleeding, and tartar or plaque buildup. 

If you do happen to experience tooth loss because of advanced periodontal infection, we can also discuss long-term rehabilitation with the help of dental implants. 

Contact Our Los Angeles Gum Disease Specialists

Fortunately, clinical periodontology experts like the team at The Center for Advanced Periodontal and Implant Therapy can screen individuals for periodontitis and disease outcome likelihood during their comprehensive exam. Since we know critically ill patients are more prone to respiratory diseases like COVID-19, we perform a systematic review of your health history and maintain it in your dental records. Understanding that periodontal disease increases the risk to public health, gum specialists can help manage severe cases of oral infection through soft tissue therapies. 

At The Center for Advanced Periodontal and Implant Therapy, we can help you make good oral hygiene a reality. Even if you currently suffer from chronic periodontitis. If you have a periodontitis diagnosis or peri-implant diseases, you share common risk factors with hospitalized COVID 19 patients. Contact our Los Angeles specialty office today to discuss periodontal treatments for better overall health. 


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