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The Connection Between Poor Oral Hygiene and Severity of COVID-19

An international study led by researchers at McGill University has discovered that those with poor dental hygiene tend to experience more severe COVID-19 symptoms. By looking at digital medical and dental records of over 500 patients with COVID-19, they discovered that patients who showed signs of gum disease, or periodontitis, were 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit, 4.5 times more likely to require a ventilator, and 8.8 times more likely to die from COVID-19. Oral bacteria can be inhaled into the respiratory tract, which can then lead to worsening conditions such as pneumonia or sepsis. Their research shows that good oral health is vital to the prevention and management of COVID-19 complications.

“[The connection between the mouth and the body] is mutual; when there is poor systemic health, the mouth often reacts with inflammation, xerostomia, periodontal disease, and increased decay.” That is why it is especially important during the pandemic to maintain your regular oral health routine and continue to attend your dental appointments. By maintaining a healthy mouth, you are also maintaining a healthy body.

Periodontitis, an inflammation of the gums, when not being treated can lead to inflammation throughout the entire body. Furthermore, another study has also found that patients who have gum disease have an increased chance of inflammation in the body. More studies are being conducted to understand further, how the correlation between COVID-19 and gum disease affects individuals and how to treat it better.

Until then, prevention is key. Maintaining your regular dental visits and everyday cleaning will help lower the risk of potential COVID-19 complications. “Good oral hygiene has been recognized as a means to prevent airway infections in patients, especially in those over the age of 70.” Regular dental hygiene visits should continue to be incorporated into your routine to reduce the bacterial load in your mouth and, thus, reduce the potentially harmful risks of bacterial superinfection.

Below are steps you can take every day to maintain good oral health and prevent periodontitis:

  1. Regular dental cleaning and check-ups: regular visits are the best way to prevent and detect problems in your oral health before they get worse.
  2. Brush and floss twice a day: your teeth are covered with a sticky film also known as plaque. This plaque has bacteria that release acid following a meal or snack that contains sugar. These acids weaken the enamel on your teeth, exposing your teeth to cavities. By brushing regularly using fluoride toothpaste, you can help prevent plaque build-up and keep these acid attacks at bay.
  3. Reduce sugar intake: minimize the risk of harmful bacterias by avoiding sugary foods and snacks. Instead, opt for more healthy foods that contain good bacteria, such as, yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods.

Our dental office continues to exercise an extremely high level of infection control preparedness and protocols. Our priority will always be to keep you, our staff, and the community safe. Why wait until the pandemic is over? Book a dental check-up appointment with us today.