Gum Disease & COVID-19

Sensational headlines in the Times newspaper…….
Why the health of your gums could save your life
Recently various newspapers published similar articles with potentially alarming headlines linking gum health and serious Covid-19 illness, based on a study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology on February 1. Findings included:
Covid-19 patients with periodontitis (gum disease) were
• 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to ICU
• 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator; and
• almost 9 times more likely to die compared to those without periodontitis
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, these findings suggest the importance of diligent oral care during COVID-19. “It is well-established that systemic inflammation is not only linked with periodontal disease, but to several other respiratory diseases as well,” said Dr. J. Wilson, President of the AAP. “Therefore, maintaining healthy teeth and gums in an effort to avoid developing or worsening periodontal disease is absolutely crucial in the midst of a global pandemic like COVID-19, which is also known to trigger an inflammatory response.”
In a live event on the European Periodontal Society (EFP) Instagram page (@perioeurope) Dr. Graziani (University of Pisa) and Prof L Shapira (Hebrew University–Hadassah of Jerusalem) discussed the association between periodontitis and Covid-19 complications.
“This is a striking paper,” said Prof Shapira who put forward some biologically plausible explanations
1. Periodontitis involves inflammation of the gums and can affect systemic inflammation, while the complications of Covid-19 are connected to the so-called “cytokine storm”, a form of inflammatory response. “The combination of these two – inflammation from Covid-19 and inflammation from the gum – may be synergistic and cause a lot of damage for the patient,” he said.
2. The second hypothesis was that inflammation in periodontitis is related to bacterial infection in the periodontal pockets, and these bacteria can easily go down into the lungs where Covid-19 is causing pulmonary infection. “So, the combination is like a super-infection, with the virus and the periodontal pathogens acting in a synergistic way to produce the inflammatory response,” he suggested
“The public and the dentists have to be aware that if we prevent the infection of the gums and prevent periodontitis, we might also help the patient to survive if he gets infected by Covid 19,” said Shapira.
Although it is accepted that this study does not prove causation and the diagnosis of gum disease is limited (based only on xray pictures) Prof Shapira stated “there is no harm in going to the public and the medical profession and explaining the possibility that keeping your gums healthy will affect your health if you are infected with Covid-19.”
Here at Perio & Implant Dental Referral we very much acknowledge the findings of this study, but we would like to reassure our patients that we will continue to help them achieve gum health and stability. Although it has been shown that periodontal disease is linked to systemic health (especially cardiovascular health, respiratory conditions & diabetes) it has also been shown that these risks are significantly reduced if the mouth is healthy and periodontal disease is controlled. There is no evidence to suggest that the risk is any different for Covid 19 complications. If you are concerned please contact the practice

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