A new study published by the Journal of Clinical Periodontology shows a strong association between gum disease and increased risk of COVID-19 complications. Keep reading to learn more about gum disease, the findings of the study, and the actions you can take to improve your oral health.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a serious infection that damages your teeth, gums, and jawbone. It is typically caused by poor oral hygiene, which allows plaque and bacteria to build up on your teeth. In the earliest stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, you may notice irritation, redness, and swelling on your gum line. As the disease progresses, the infection can damage your soft tissue and destroy the bone that supports your teeth.
The Connection Between Periodontitis and COVID-19
According to a study performed between February and July 2020, COVID-19 patients are at least three times more likely to experience complications if they suffer from periodontal disease. The study followed 568 patients and discovered that COVID-19 patients with periodontitis had higher levels of inflammation in their body, which was correlated to worse COVID-19 outcomes.
Out of all 568 patients, 45% had gum disease and were 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care, 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator, and 9 times more likely to die than patients without gum disease.
What You Can Do to Prevent Gum Disease
When it comes to your oral health, preventative measures can go a long way. To protect your oral health, follow these six recommendations.
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes
- Clean between your teeth using dental floss at least once a day
- Use mouthwash to reduce plaque and remove food particles
- Schedule routine dental cleanings and checkups
- Avoid smoking and nicotine products
- Eat a balanced diet that is low in sugar
Healthy gums are pink and fit snugly around your teeth. If you notice any swelling, bleeding, irritation, or other symptoms of periodontitis, schedule an appointment with your dentist. By being proactive about your oral health early on, you may be able to prevent gum disease from developing. Or if you already have periodontitis, there are a number of treatment options available from your dentist that can help to control the disease and reduce inflammation, thereby reducing your risk of developing severe COVID-19 outcomes.