Inflamed and infected gums may lead to higher chances of developing complications and more fatal outcomes for those suffering from COVID-19, according to an international study conducted by McGill University of Canada. The study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, found a link between gum disease and higher rates of COVID-19 complications, such as ICU admission and fatalities. This is the first published research demonstrating the damaging effects of gum disease on COVID-19 patients.
The study found that patients who had both COVID-19 and periodontal disease were 3.5 times more likely to require admission into an intensive care unit. The same patients were found to be 4.5 times as likely to require the use of a ventilator. The most startling statistic may have been that these patients were 8.8 times more likely to die than COVID-19 patients without periodontal disease.
One of the study‘s authors, McGill University professor and author Belinda Nicolau, said that the study underscores the necessity for proper oral hygiene to prevent and manage the complications of COVID-19. She went on to say that, “There is a very strong correlation between periodontitis and disease outcome.”
What is periodontal disease?
Commonly known as gum disease, periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory infection of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth. It develops because of plaque accumulation, which is a sticky biofilm that adheres to the teeth and gum area, directly leading to periodontal disease that can destroy teeth.
Periodontitis is the late stage of gum disease, which is irreversible. In its early stages, gum disease is known as gingivitis, which can be prevented and reversed by proper oral hygiene, such as regular brushing and flossing the teeth.
Periodontal disease is the most common type of dental problem among Canadians. Approximately 70% have been impacted by gum disease at some point in their lives, in spite of the fact that the condition is largely preventable.
Periodontal disease has long been known as a risk factor in a variety of diseases. Researchers believe that the inflammation associated with periodontal disease can travel systemically far away from the original site of infection. Since COVID-19 sufferers are already dealing with high levels of inflammation, the added burden of periodontal disease may be leading to their higher rates of negative outcomes.
The McGill study also showed that biomarkers in the blood of COVID-19 patients with gum disease were significantly higher than normal, suggesting a reason for the higher rates of complications among them.
The study had 568 participants from Qatar in early 2020 under observation. Their digital medical records were compared to their dental records to produce the results of the study.
At Fairway Dental Clinic – Kitchener 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.