Woman waiting for the bus with a COVID mask on.

The Link Between Oral Health and COVID-19 Symptoms

October 1, 2020

As the world adjusts to a new normal in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, new research has emerged indicating that people with advanced gingivitis and poor oral health are at greater risk for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

But what exactly links these seemingly unrelated issues together? And what can you do to protect yourself and reduce your risk of suffering from severe COVID-19 symptoms? We’ll break it all down below.

Take the first step in protecting yourself – use our “Find a Dentist” tool and schedule your preventative care visit today!

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Oral Health and COVID-19

With over 10 million people having been infected with COVID-19, British researchers Victoria and Ariane Sampson wanted to know what might be causing severe symptoms in some and not others.

So, they asked the question: “Could there be a link between oral hygiene and SARS-CoV-2 infections?”

Turns out, there is – in fact, they found that 20 percent of those who contracted COVID developed severe symptoms due to a high “bacterial load.”

In other words, those who suffer from gingivitis or periodontitis have higher rates of infection causing bacteria in their mouth, which enters their body in a myriad of ways. The first, is through the blood via the vessels in the gums and teeth. The second is via respiratory, by breathing in this bacteria.

As a result, those who may have contracted COVID or are suffering from minor symptoms, develop post-viral bacterial complications, such as pneumonia, sepsis, or respiratory distress syndrome. When this happens, the body’s immune system is weakened, resulting in much more severe symptoms than would have otherwise occurred.

Additionally, the researchers note that “those with periodontal disease are at a 25 percent raised risk of heart disease, thrice the risk of getting diabetes, and 20 percent raised risk of getting high blood pressure.”

Which means that having anyone of these diseases puts you into the CDC’s recognized “at-risk” groups for COVID-19, so understanding the connection between oral health and coronavirus is that much more important.

How to Protect Yourself

Now that you understand the connection between oral health and severe COVID-19 symptoms, keeping yourself safe and healthy is simple.

As this study shows, it’s even more important to prioritize your dental hygiene, whether you fall into one of the “at-risk” groups or not.

Brush your teeth for 2-minutes twice a day with a soft bristle toothbrush, floss at least once-a-day with an ADA recommended floss, and schedule a preventative care visit with your dentist at least once every six months. If you’re over the age of 70, consider following the CDC’s guidance on activities to avoid, mask wearing, and social distancing to keep yourself and loved one’s safe.

If you’re worried about tooth decay, gum recession, or other oral health issues or you have questions about your oral health and whether you’re at risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms, consult your dental provider.

Take the first step in protecting yourself – use our “Find a Dentist” tool and schedule your preventative care visit today!

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