Recent research done on COVID-19 coronavirus has revealed that gum disease (periodontal disease) has a serious effect on the likelihood of complications caused by the virus.
In this blog from the office of Dr. Priti Naik, we’ll discuss this study and the link between COVID-19 and gum disease, as well as how gum disease and other oral health problems like tooth infections can compromise your immune system, and raise your risk of infections.
New research from the October 2020 Journal of the California Dental Association from Dr. Shervin Molayem, a Los Angeles-based dental surgeon, and Dr. Carla Pontes, a healthcare researcher based in South Africa, has shown a striking connection between COVID-19 coronavirus complications and periodontal disease.
The article, entitled “The Mouth COVID Connection (MCC)” suggests a link between the bacteria that cause gum disease and serious COVID-19 complications.
In the article, the researchers suggest that hospitalized coronavirus patients who have a prior history of gum disease are more prone to respiratory failure, and are more likely to need a ventilator during their COVID-19 treatment.
The primary focus of the study was patient levels of IL-6 (interleukin). Levels of this harmful protein are elevated in patients who have gum disease, and another recent study in Germany found that patients who tested higher for IL-6 had a much higher risk of suffering serious respiratory problems due to the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
Specifically, patients who had IL-6 levels above 80pg/ml were 22x more likely to suffer “acute respiratory problems” compared to those whose IL-6 levels were below 80pg/ml. This is because high levels of IL-6 can spread to the lungs, causing a serious respiratory crisis.
Basically, if you have gum disease, it’s possible that elevated levels of proteins and other complications could dramatically enhance your likelihood of respiratory failure.
If you have gum disease, the study above suggests that you may have a higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19. And, not only that, but gum disease can also increase the likelihood of contracting COVID-19.
How? Because uncontrolled gum disease requires your white blood cells and other immune cells to fight against a bacterial infection in your mouth. These resources are not available to other parts of your body, so your overall immune response is weaker compared to a person without gum disease.
Because of this, gum disease may also raise your risk of contracting COVID-19 and other viruses like the flu and colds. Your body and immune system will not be able to respond to these threats as quickly, which could lead to an infection.
Untreated periodontal disease could increase your risk of catching COVID-19 and lead to serious respiratory complications if you do contract this illness. For that reason, you need to do everything you can to keep your mouth healthy and avoid gum disease.
Need a check-up? Worried you might have gum disease? Schedule an appointment in Vienna, Tysons Corner, or McLean at the office of Priti Naik, DDS. Dr. Priti Naik can provide you with the care you need to restore your oral health and keep your gums healthy during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Contact us online or give us a call at (703) 288-1800 to get started.