As we learn more about COVID-19, the virus is being associated to several medical conditions and complications in patients that have been infected. A recent study found gum disease can be associated with severe COVID-19 outcomes and other medical conditions. To understand how gum disease is associated to COVID-19, it’s important to know what gum disease is and how it can be linked to other complications in the body.

A study to be published in the October 2020 issue of the Journal of the California Dental Association (JCDA) suggests that hospitalized coronavirus patients with prior underling gum disease may be at higher risk for respiratory failure. The study indicates that symptoms of chronic periodontitis, such as bone loss, may lead to more severe COVID-19 complications. “They have higher levels of inflammatory products circulating, and, therefore, have more potential to cause damage in the lungs,” Okano says. Damage in the lungs can lead to respiratory failure and require hospitalized COVID-19 patients to be put on a ventilator. While this research is in its early stages, what is known is that periodontal health is connected to your overall systemic health.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports gum disease may be associated with other health complications. Years of research has found diabetic patients are more susceptible to gum disease. “We know patients who are diabetic and not well controlled can be more prone to infection,” Okano says. The effect of gum disease and diabetes is referred to as “bi-directional” which means there’s influence both ways. Gum disease is not only more likely to occur in a patient that has uncontrolled diabetes, but inflammation in gum disease makes it harder to control diabetes. Diabetes has also been listed as an underlying health condition that might increase risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Oct 14, 2020

Author: Kylene Metzger

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