It’s now been more than a year since the first known US COVID-19 infection was discovered. A year later, we’re still learning how the virus has affected those who have been infected. We’re still unsure of long-term effects but what we do know now is that certain conditions can increase health complication risks. The previously known pre-existing conditions include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, cancer, smoking, heart conditions, liver disease, and more. New research now indicates that gum disease can also increase the risk of COVID-19 complications including death risk. Learn what you need to know about gum disease and COVID-19.

young woman pointing to her red, swollen gums

Studies Show Gum Disease Increases Risk of COVID-19 Complications Including Death

Scientists from Qatar University studied more than 500 patients positive with COVID-19. After analyzing their condition, the scientists concluded that patients with periodontal disease 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 from COVID-19 than those without periodontal disease.

So what’s the link between gum disease and COVID-19? When someone has gum disease, the infection in the gums can cause the inflammation to spread to other areas of the body. The scientists believe that the high levels of inflammation in the body combined with the inflammation that comes with COVID-19 causes extremely high levels of inflammation which makes complications more common.

The president-elect of the European Federation of Periodontology, Lior Shapira, claimed that gum disease opens the door for COVID-19 to become more violent in the body. He recommended good oral hygiene as a preventive measure to reduce severe COVID-19 outcomes.

Currently, more than half of adults worldwide experience some degree of gum disease. Gum disease can cause an inflammatory response in the gums that will spread to the rest of the body when it’s not treated. COVID-19 also causes an inflammatory response in the body.

How Does Gum Disease Compare to Other Conditions That Increase COVID-19 Risks?

Scientists in Qatar conducted another study that was nationwide and it included 568 patients who were COVID-19 positive. 40 of these patients experienced complications that required intensive care admittance.

The study collected data from these patients to examine all pre-existing conditions such as body mass index (BMI), gum disease, diabetes, smoking, asthma, and high blood pressure. They also took blood samples to evaluate inflammation levels.

Of the 568 patients, 45% of them had some level of gum disease. After looking at all other pre-existing conditions, they found that gum disease increased the odds of all types of complications by 3.67, 3.54 for intensive care admittance, 4.57 for ventilator requirement, and 8.81 for death.

The links between COVID-19 and gum disease are clearly there. Experts believe that good oral health is one of the keys to reducing your risk of complications.

Researchers also found that it’s possible for the oral bacteria from gum disease to travel to the lungs when using a ventilator. This can further increase the risk of death. Researcher Mariano Sanz recommends that patients with gum disease regularly use oral antiseptics to reduce bacteria transmission.

The association between oral health and the lungs isn’t new. Previously, it was known that gum disease can increase the chance of pneumonia, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other respiratory conditions. 

Know The Symptoms of Gum Disease

Although taking action to prevent gum disease should be your first step, it’s also important to recognize the symptoms of gum disease so you can get treatment as soon as possible. Early gum disease treatment will not only decrease your risk of COVID-19 complications, but it can also help prevent bone loss and improve oral and overall health. Gum disease can increase the risk for heart disease and high blood pressure.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, we encourage you to visit our dental office for an evaluation.

  • Puffy, swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Tender gums
  • Red, bleeding gums
  • Bleeding when brushing, eating, or flossing
  • Painful chewing
  • Loss of teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Bite changes

Gum Disease Prevention and Treatment in Woburn, MA

If you have gum disease and come into contact with COVID-19, you have a higher risk of complications. Fortunately, with help from our Woburn dentist, preventing and treating gum disease is easy.

To prevent gum disease, we recommend brushing twice a day and flossing once per day in addition to seeing us every thee to six months for a dental exam and cleaning. These visits allow us to remove plaque and tartar from underneath the gum line to prevent gum disease from forming.

If you do have gum disease or early signs of gum disease, visiting us every three to six months will allow us to catch it early and treat it before it can do further damage.

Whether you’re overdue for a cleaning and dental exam or you’re noticing signs of gum disease, we highly encourage you to book an appointment as soon as possible.

We’re taking extra precautions to keep you safe during your visit with us, like using medical-grade air filters that remove 99.97% of airborne particles from the air and wearing air-purifying respirator masks during your appointment.

Please contact Divine Smiles in Woburn at (781) 396-8558 today to book an appointment.