Study Finds Gum Disease Linked to COVID Complications

Study Finds Gum Disease Linked to COVID Complications

Your dentist for families in Eugene, Dr. Rita Feldmanis, hopes that the following study underscores how important dental care remains during the current pandemic. 

Patients with COVID are three times more likely to develop severe complications if they also have gum disease, reports the results of a new study. Published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, the study examined over 500 patients with COVID-19 and found that those with gum disease were 3.5 times more likely to need hospitalization and 4.5 times more likely to be placed on a ventilator, and nearly nine times more likely to die when compared to patients with healthy gums.

Blood markers that indicate the presence of inflammation in the body were significantly higher in COVID patients with gum disease when compared to those without. This suggests to researchers that inflammation may explain why the virus is more likely to develop into a severe case in patients with gum disease.

“The results of the study suggest that the inflammation in the oral cavity may open the door to the coronavirus becoming more violent,” wrote the research team. “Oral care should be part of the health recommendations to reduce the risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes.”

The Dangers Associated with Gum Disease Continue to Grow

Periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, impacts up to half of all adults in the world. Periodontitis causes inflammation to develop in gum tissue, and, when left untreated, that inflammation can spread throughout the body. COVID-19 has been linked to an inflammatory response that can result in death. This study marks one of the first to examine the relationship between severe gum disease and COVID-related complications.

During this study, the medical records of 568 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between February and July 2020 were examined by the research team. Of those participants, 40 developed complications (the need for hospitalization, use of a ventilator, and death) and 528 did not.

The team collected data on gum disease and other potential risk factors that might be linked with COVID-19 complications, including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, body mass index, blood pressure, and smoking history. Data was also collected on the presence of certain chemicals that indicate inflammation found in the blood.

Of the 568 participants in the study, 45 percent had gum disease. After adjusting for a variety of known risk factors, the odds for COVID-19 complications developing in patients with gum disease were 3.67 when compared to those with healthy gums. Patients with gum disease were 3.54 and 4.57 times more likely to require hospitalization or the use of a ventilator, respectively. Overall, patients with gum disease were found to be 8.81 times more likely to die from the virus.

Researchers noted that oral bacteria in patients with periodontitis can be inhaled and infect the lungs. This becomes especially problematic when patients are on a ventilator. Researchers believe this may work to contribute to the increased mortality rate in COVID patients with gum disease.

“This study highlights another association between gum disease and our systemic health and reiterates the need for ongoing, lifelong dental care for people susceptible to gum disease and a strong approach to periodontitis for populations as a whole.,” highlighted the research team.

Your Dentist for Families in Eugene Can Help

As we’ve covered before in Dr. Feldmanis’ blog, better oral health directly leads to better overall health.

By taking the time to brush and floss daily, and to schedule regular exams and cleanings with your dentist for families in Eugene, you can successfully lower your risk for gum disease and all of the health problems associated with this chronic condition.

At a time where we all need healthy and strong immune systems, now is not the time to neglect your oral health. Contact our team today to schedule your next appointment with Dr. Feldmanis and get the confidence you need in having a healthy, great-looking smile.

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