Medical professionals have been speculating that gum disease is linked to more negative COVID-19 treatment outcomes. Now, a new study conducted by the McGill University of Canada has provided some backing for this view. The international study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology suggested that gum disease, medically known as periodontal disease, may have a link with higher COVID-19 complication risks, including fatalities.
The study followed 568 patients who had severe cases of COVID-19 in Qatar. Factors like demographics and behavioural activities were taken into account to avoid any bias. All patient medical records had been digitized, improving data collection.
The study found that patients who had both COVID-19 and gum disease were:
- 3.5 times more likely to receive admission into an ICU
- 4.5 times more likely to need the use of a ventilator
- 8.8 times more likely to die
Researchers stressed that the study’s conclusions highlight the critical need for proper oral health to prevent and manage COVID-19 complications. A very strong statistical link was found between gum disease and COVID-19 outcomes.
The early form of periodontal disease is known as gingivitis – a condition that is reversible through proper oral hygiene. By regularly brushing and flossing at home, an individual can prevent this condition. If proper oral hygiene is not practiced, gingivitis can develop and progress into periodontitis, which is an irreversible condition that can cause the loss of teeth.
Gum disease causes an inflamed and infected condition of the gums that support and surround the teeth. It is caused by the presence of plaque that hardens into the tartar. This leads to a chronic inflammatory infection of the gum tissue, potentially threatening the loss of the teeth.
The link between gum disease and COVID-19 may be due to the fact that both conditions involve high levels of inflammation. If a COVID-19 patient is already struggling with inflammation due to periodontal disease, the additional burden of systemic inflammation may be too much for them, leading to higher rates of negative outcomes.
It is also known that the inflammation triggered by gum disease can travel throughout the body, stressing bodily systems like the immune system. For example, a strong link has been found between gum disease and heart disease.
Another finding of the study was that blood biomarker levels, such as C-reactive protein, were much higher in COVID-19 patients who also had gum disease, potentially providing an explanation for their higher rates of complications.
At Waterloo Emergency Dental Centre – Waterloo Dentist Office, we care about your oral health and strive to provide you with the best possible treatment and care. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.
DISCLAIMER: The advice offered is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. It is no way to offer a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendations for your particular situation. Any advice provided is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified dentist.