How important is it to take care of your teeth in this COVID pandemic?

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The oral cavity is a potential reservoir for respiratory pathogens which can predispose patients to bacterial super-infection. So far, it is already established that poor oral health can have an impact on the heart, may worsen blood sugar levels, may lead to premature births or IVF failures, be associated with arthritis, kidney diseases, respiratory diseases, and or neuro-degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s. Since the invention of this disastrous pandemic– The COVID-19, there is growing research evidence that “people with poor oral health or gum disease are 3.5 to 4.5 times more likely to present with severe symptoms or may develop complications if they are infected by coronavirus.”

“Infected and inflamed gums may result in higher rates of complications and more fatal outcomes for individuals diagnosed with the SARS-COV-2 infection, according to a new international study led by McGill researchers recently published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology. The study suggests that gum disease may be associated with higher risks of complications from COVID-19, including ICU admission and death”, said Dr Anmol Agrawal, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon, Implantologist & TMJ Specialist.

This happens especially in individuals with sustained poor oral health, ignored for a long period of time, leading to an imbalance in the oral flora – which means the poor or opportunistic bacteria overgrows the number of good bacteria present in the mouth which are responsible for digestion and fighting off certain infections.

“These opportunistic bacteria enter the bloodstream through oral tissues thereby opening the roadmap to settle down in the vital organs which certainly activates the defense mechanism of the body causing chronic inflammation and over time contributing to various debilitating conditions. Possibly through a similar mechanism, poor oral health may also facilitate the spread of coronavirus in the human body”, said Dr Payal Agrawal, Specialist Laser Dentist & Micro-endodontist.

Enzymes from the bacteria associated with gum disease are capable of altering the surface of the oral mucosa, salivary glands, and respiratory tract, making it easier for the coronavirus to adhere to these surfaces and multiple further.

With more research, it will be exactly known how oral health affects the progress of COVID. Meanwhile, there is enough evidence to consider poor oral health, a risk factor for complications in those who are infected with coronavirus – especially in the presence of co-morbidities such as diabetes, respiratory disorders or cardiovascular diseases, etc.
It’s, therefore, more important than ever to maintain good oral health which means brushing twice a day for at least two minutes and visiting the dentist on a regular basis. Having good oral health and caring for your mouth certainly could reduce your risk of developing severe symptoms of the deadly coronavirus disease.

In case of COVID infection, people who already have chronic inflammation due to poor oral health, present with much higher levels of specific inflammatory markers like interleukins, C-reactive protein (CRP), etc or may suffer from cytokine storm where the individual’s own immune system harms the individual’s own tissues at the same time while fighting off the virus.