Is Gum Disease a Risk Factor for Severe COVID-19?

Gum Disease and COVID-19A recent study found that gum disease (periodontal disease) can increase the hospitalization of patients with COVID-19. The study of 568 patients having COVID-19 found that those with periodontal disease were three and a half times more likely to be admitted to intensive care. It also found patients were four and a half times more likely to need a ventilator, and almost nine times more likely to succumb to COVID-19 compared to those without gum disease, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

Researchers also found that COVID-19 patients with periodontitis had increased levels of biomarkers (including white blood cell levels, D‐dimer, and C-reactive protein) associated with worse COVID-19 outcomes. Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis is left untreated and periodontal disease advances.

“It is well-established that systemic inflammation is not only linked with periodontal disease but to several other respiratory diseases as well,” explained Dr. James Wilson, president of the American Academy of Periodontology.

Of 568 COVID-19 patients in the study, 258 (45%) had gum disease. After adjusting for age, sex, BMI, smoking status, and other conditions, the odds ratios for COVID-19 complications in patients with gum disease, compared to those without gum disease, were 3.67 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.46–9.27) for all COVID-19 complications, 3.54 (95% CI 1.39–9.05) for ICU admission, 4.57 (95% CI 1.19–17.4) for ventilator requirement, and 8.81 (95% CI 1.00–77.7) for death.

“The results of the study suggest that the inflammation in the oral cavity may open the door to the coronavirus becoming more violent,” said Professor Lior Shapira, EFP president-elect. “Oral care should be part of the health recommendations to reduce the risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes.”

The findings show the importance of good oral care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to Help Prevent Gum Disease

• Brush your teeth at least once a day.
• Floss between your teeth.
• Specific mouth wash and/or kinds of toothpaste can be used to reduce inflammation.
• Do not smoke, eat a balanced diet, exercise, and reduce stress.
• If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar.

Periodontal disease (gum disease) can cause bleeding gums, bad breath and, if untreated, can lead to tooth loss. Up to half of U.S. adults aged 30 and older have some form of gum disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Previous research has linked gum disease to serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

If you are looking for general dentistry in Downers Grove for a check-up, x-rays, and teeth cleaning, contact Webster Dental at 630.663.0554. We also perform important procedures in our office to remove plaque and bacteria from your teeth and gums. When necessary, we can perform a procedure called scaling and root planing to remove damaging plaque, tartar, and bacteria that are far below the gum line.