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Periodontitis May Increase the Risk of Severe COVID-19 Effects

image of gums

Periodontitis May Increase the Risk of Severe COVID-19 Effects

Oral hygiene and regular dental visits are key in tracking general health and well-being. The connection between overall health and oral health is currently being examined and researched by health professionals in relation to COVID-19.

Early research has shown that those with COVID-19 who have severe gum disease may be at greater risk for a more severe case of COVID-19. According to the study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, adults with COVID-19 that resulted in ICU admission, assisted ventilation, or death were much more likely to have Periodontitis than were COVID-19 patients without this severe disease.

The American Dental Association recognizes the value in continuing this research as well as promoting good oral hygiene and regular dental visits.

However, when evaluating these findings we need to err on the side of caution. These results demonstrate a casual relationship between Periodontitis and severity of COVID-19 effects, not a relationship supporting a cause and effect. Many of the risk factors for Periodontitis are also risk factors influencing severity of COVID-19 morbidity.

How to Prevent Periodontitis

  • Brush your teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride at least twice a day to remove food debris and plaque
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day to reach areas that your toothbrush can’t quite reach
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 months
  • Use a mouthwash to get rid of any leftover debris
  • Schedule regular visits with your dentist and regular cleanings with your dental hygienist
  • Avoid smoking anything, including cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, and marijuana
  • Discuss with your doctor whether any of your current medications cause dry mouth, which is a contributing factor to symptoms

Warning Signs of Periodontitis

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Red or purple discoloration of the gums
  • Gums that are painful to the touch
  • Gums that bleed; easily especially when brushing
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth or tooth loss
  • Pain when eating or chewing
  • Receding gums

Stages of Periodontitis

  1. Gingivitis
  2. Slight Periodontal Disease
  3. Moderate Periodontal Disease
  4. Advanced Periodontal Disease

Treatment of Periodontitis

  • Scaling – removing tartar and bacteria from tooth surfaces and beneath gums
  • Root planing – smoothing of the root surface to decrease the likelihood of further tartar and bacteria buildup
  • Topical or oral antibiotics to help control any bacterial infection
  • In more serious cases, surgery may be required

If you think you may have Periodontitis please schedule a visit with a dental professional as soon as possible.