A study published earlier this month by the Journal of Clinical Periodontology has found a link between COVID-19 patients who also suffer from gum disease and their likelihood of developing serious complications including ICU admission, needing assisted ventilation, and death. The study set out to determine if the systemic inflammation caused by periodontitis could have serious implications for patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19. Continue reading to learn more about this study and the possible impact that gum disease can have on COVID-19 patients.

If you are in need of a New Jersey dentist, it’s time to contact Century Dental or Seaview Dental. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a dental exam and teeth cleaning or to discuss treatment options for gum disease.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, or periodontitis, is a severe gum infection. It is characterized by swollen, red, tender gums and can lead to tooth loss. Periodontitis is mainly, but not always, caused by poor oral hygiene and damages the soft tissue around your teeth as well as the bone that supports your teeth, if it goes untreated. While gum disease can be quite serious, it is fairly preventable and most cases can be treated successfully by your dentist. More severe cases may require surgery.

Why Was This Study Conducted?

Periodontitis has been linked to heart disease and lung disease due to the chronic systemic inflammation caused by the disease. Systemic inflammation is a main characteristic of periodontitis, which can contribute to the progression of certain diseases including heart disease. COVID-19 is associated with an exacerbated inflammatory response which can cause more serious and even fatal outcomes. This study was performed to determine if the systemic inflammation caused by periodontitis could also possibly be connected to, or the cause of, more serious cases of COVID-19 that require ICU admission, the need for assisted ventilation, and even death.

The Connection Between Gum Disease and COVID-19 Complications

The study involved 568 COVID-19 patients and considered patients who experienced serious complications including ICU admission, the need for assisted ventilation, or death as well as patients who were discharged without any major complications. The study concluded that COVID-19 patients who also suffered from gum disease were more likely to suffer serious complications. In fact, COVID-19 patients who had periodontitis were 3.5 times more likely to require ICU admission, 4.5 times more likely to need assisted ventilation, and almost nine times more likely to die. There was also a connection found between elevated white blood cell levels in COVID-19 patients and those who suffered from periodontitis. 

What Are the Implications of This Study?

This study found that COVID-19 patients who also had gum disease were more likely to suffer from severe complications or even death. We already knew that gum disease could be a risk factor for heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, but these new findings suggest that periodontitis may have an even more severe impact on our overall health. With these findings, it has become increasingly clear how important oral health is. Most cases of gum disease are preventable with good oral hygiene practices, which leads us to consider if some people could avoid serious complications from COVID-19 by improving their oral health habits.

How Do You Prevent or Treat Gum Disease?

The best way to prevent gum disease is by flossing, brushing, and seeing your dentist regularly. We recommend visiting your dentist for a teeth cleaning and checkup once every six months. If you suffer from periodontitis, you may require more frequent visits. 

To treat gum disease, you’ll want to schedule a dental exam at your local dentist office. Your dentist will be able to determine the stage of your gum disease and what the best course of action is for you. 

Make an Appointment at Your New Jersey Dentist Office

Are you concerned that you may be suffering from gum disease or need assistance with another oral health issue? It’s time to make an appointment at Century Dental in Jackson or Seaview Dental in Eatontown. Our experienced dentists and dental hygienists are professional, caring, and dedicated to helping you take charge of your oral health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.