COVID 19 and Gums
As we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and the effects on our bodies, the virus is being associated to some medical conditions and various ongoing complications in those that have been infected. A very recent study found that gum disease can be associated with severe COVID-19 outcomes. To understand how gum disease can be associated with COVID-19, it is first important to know what gum disease is and how it can be easily linked to other medical issues in your body.
A Definition of Gum Disease
Gum disease is a commonly occurring type of oral health disease that affects the supporting structures of the teeth, including your gum tissue and the bones surrounding your teeth. Gum disease is from tooth decay in that it causes holes in the bones that support the roots of your teeth. Tooth decay results in holes in your teeth causing cavities. Gum disease is so common that over 50% of American adults over the age of thirty have the disease. The primary cause is the neglect of not brushing and flossing daily, and not visiting your dentist every six months for proper professional teeth cleaning.
COVID 19 and Your Gums
Your body responds to a bacterial infection in the gums through inflammation. This process can contribute to a condition called a cytokine storm. This is when an infection, such as Covid 19, triggers your immune system with an excessive flood of inflammatory proteins. This response can kill tissue and damage organs. A result of gum disease is the increase of pockets between your teeth and gums. The inflammatory products can enter the blood stream through these infected gum pockets. These damaging proteins, once in the blood stream, will go to other body organs and cause tissue damage.
A study recently published suggests that hospitalized coronavirus patients with prior underlying gum disease can be at higher risk for respiratory failure. The study shows that symptoms of chronic gum disease, such as bone loss, can lead to more severe COVID-19 complications. There is a higher level of inflammatory products circulating causing an elevated risk of damage in the lungs. Damage with the lungs can lead to respiratory failure and require hospitalized COVID-19 patients to then be put on a ventilator. Even though this research is in its preliminary stages, what is known is that the health of your gums is directly connected to your overall systemic health.
There is growing evidence that supports gum disease is associated with other health complications. Years of research has proven diabetic patients are more susceptible to gum disease. The effect of gum disease and diabetes is referred to as bi-directional which means there is influence both ways. Gum disease is more likely to occur if you have uncontrolled diabetes, but inflammation from gum disease also makes it harder to control diabetes. Diabetes has also been listed as a primary underlying health condition that will increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 virus.
Your Gums and Prevention
The best way to prevent infection spreading via your gums is to take care of them. This means brushing and flossing each day and complimenting your daily habits with a visit to your dentist every six months to remove damaging plaque and tarter through a simply professional teeth cleaning.