Gum disease is much more common than you may think. Approximately half of all Americans who are 30 years of age or older are suffering from it at one severity or another. Something that many people don’t know is just how much it can affect other systems throughout your body, including your immune system. Now that we are living through a pandemic, it is in your best interest to know that there is likely a connection between gum disease and COVID-19. Continue reading to learn what this link is from a dentist in Houston.
What Is the Connection between Gum Disease and COVID-19?
A study known as “The Mouth COVID Connection (MCC)” suggests a link between the bacteria that is present in inflamed, infected gums and COVID-19 related complications. The researchers in the study have suggests that patients that have higher levels of a harmful protein, interleukin, that is elevated due to gum disease might be at greater risk of suffering from life-threatening respiratory issues. A critical study in Germany tested COVID-19 patients for this protein and determined that patients who had higher levels of it were more likely to require a ventilator to breathe.
Gum disease has also been linked to other breathing ailments, like pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This can certainly contribute to the symptoms of patients who have both periodontal disease and COVID-19.
How Do You Prevent Gum Disease?
Even though gum disease is very common, it is easily preventable. Here are some steps you should take:
- Brush your teeth: By brushing twice a day, you can remove food debris and plaque that is lingering in your mouth.
- Floss daily: Brushing isn’t enough on its own. There are certain areas in your mouth where your toothbrush cannot quite reach. That’s why you need to use dental floss in order to clear away food particles, plaque, and bacteria from between the teeth and beneath the gumline.
- Use mouthwash: Using mouthwash can help to reduce plaque and remove remaining food particles that you missed while brushing and flossing.
- Know your risk: Some people are at higher risk than others when it comes to periodontal disease. Factors like age, smoking, diet, and genetics can all play a part. Talk to your dentist about your concerns.
- Don’t use tobacco products: Smoking doubles your risk of periodontal disease and is linked to oral cancer among many other health issues. Talk to your doctor, friends, and family about the best ways that you can quit for good.
- See your dentist: By catching gum disease early, your dentist can treat it before it becomes too serious. You should be seeing your dentist every six months for a regular checkup.
Along with all of the other COVID-19 safety precautions you are taking, be sure you’re caring for your smile as well. Here’s to a healthy 2021!
About the Author
Dr. Mark Gray is an experienced dentist who has been practicing for over three decades. He earned his dental doctorate from the University of Texas Dental School in Houston and continues to advance his skills by associating with the Spear Education Group where he is a Faculty Club member. Dr. Gray is also a graduate of the Hornbrook Group – Advanced Education in Aesthetic and Restorative Dentistry. To learn more about his COVID-19 dental safety protocols or to schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (281) 493-9395.