One year after the first person in the US became infected with COVID-19, we now know much more about the virus than before. Although we’re still unsure what long-term COVID-19 complications people will experience, we know which health problems put people at a higher risk of complications. One of these health problems that can put you at a higher risk of complications to COVID-19 is gum disease.
woman pointing to her red, swollen gums

Study Shows Gum Disease Results in COVID-19 Complications

A recent study found that patients with COVID-19 were three times more likely to experience complications if they also have gum disease. The study included more than 500 patients with COVID-19. Of these 500 patients, the ones with gum disease were 3.5 times more likely to require intensive care, 4.5 times more likely to require a ventilator, and 9 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those without gum disease.

The study also found that patients with COVID-19 and gum disease had higher levels of inflammation in the body. Experts believe that the high inflammation levels could explain why patients with both COVID-19 and gum disease experience higher complication rates.

Lior Shapira, president-elect of the European Federation of Periodontology claimed that gum disease might open the door for COVID-19 to become more violent in the body. He claims that good oral care should be a recommendation to reduce severe COVID-19 outcomes.

Currently, half of the adults worldwide have some level of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease causes an inflammatory response in the gums that will spread to the rest of the body without treatment. COVID-19 has an inflammatory response on the body that may become fatal.

How Gum Disease Compares to Other Conditions That Pose COVID-19 Complications

Another study was conducted, this time a nationwide study conducted in Qatar that included 568 patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Of these patients, only 40 had complications that required ICU admission.

The study collected information about pre-existing conditions that could cause COVID-19 complications including gum disease, body mass index (BMI), smoking, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and high blood pressure. The study also collected blood samples to evaluate inflammation levels in the body.

Of the 568 patients, 45% had gum disease. After adjusting the different factors such as BMI, smoking status, age, and other conditions, the study found that the odds for gum disease and COVID-19 complications were 3.67 for all complications, 3.54 for ICU admission, 4.57 for ventilator requirements, and 8.81 for death.

With more links between gum disease and COVID-19 complications, experts believe maintaining oral health will become an important part of their care as well as preventive care.

It’s also possible for the oral bacteria from gum disease to travel to the lungs when patients are on a ventilator. This can increase the risk of death. Researcher Mariano Sanz recommends that patients with gum disease who are on a ventilator use oral antiseptics to reduce the possible transmission of bacteria.

The association between lung diseases and gum disease includes pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma. This study contributes more evidence to the link between respiratory conditions and oral health.

This study is the perfect example of why preventive dentistry and ongoing oral health care is so important. Gum disease can affect the entire overall health and put patients at a higher risk of complications.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Aside from taking actions to prevent gum disease, it’s also important to recognize the signs of gum disease so you can get treatment early on. Early treatment won’t just help reduce your risk for COVID-19 complications, but it will prevent you from experiencing bone loss and other serious oral and overall health problems. Gum disease is linked with an increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure in addition to COVID-19 complications.

Watch for these symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Puffy or swollen gums
  • Red, bleeding gums
  • Tender gums
  • Bleeding when eating, brushing or flossing
  • Pus between gums and teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Loss of teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • Spaces developing between teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Changes to bite

If you experience any of these symptoms and it’s been more than six months since your last dental exam, we strongly encourage you to book an appointment at our Wichita Falls dental office.

Get Gum Disease Treatment in Wichita Falls

If you’re suffering from gum disease and you come into contact with COVID-19, there is a more likely chance you will experience serious complications. Fortunately, preventing and treating gum disease is easy. We strongly encourage all patients to visit us at least every six months for a dental cleaning and exam. During this time, we will look for signs of gum disease and provide treatment as soon as possible. In addition to regular visits, you should brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once per day.

Whether you’re due for a dental exam or suspect you have gum disease, please book an appointment at our dental office by calling 940-322-2252 today.