The Journal of Clinical Periodontology published a study in January 2021, which highlights the link between COVID-19 complications and periodontitis. This study has some worrying results but we feel it is important for people to be aware of this connection, and hopefully reduce the risk of complications if COVID-19 was to be diagnosed.
We have always stressed the importance of good oral hygiene, but it is especially important now during COVID-19 times.
The results of the study suggest that the inflammation in the oral cavity may open the door to the coronavirus becoming more violent. Oral care should be part of the health recommendations to reduce the risk of severe Covid-19 outcomes.Lior Shapira, EFP president-elect and professor of periodontology
This study was carried out in Qatar, where the national electronic health and dental data of the patients were used. This case-controlled study included 568 patients, all of whom have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Of these patients, 40 had COVID-19 complications, and 528 were discharged without complications. These complications included ICU admission, ventilator requirement, or death. Information was collected into reasons for these implications. Gum disease was one of the areas investigated, along with smoking, diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure. Blood markers were also used to identify chemicals related to inflammation in the body.
This study showed some worrying links between COVID-19 complications and periodontitis. Among the 258 patients who had periodontitis, 33 experienced Covid-19 complications. Only seven of the 310 patients without periodontitis presented complications.
Other alarming results from this study showed that those with periodontitis were;
- 3.5 times more likely to be admitted into intensive care.
- 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator. In addition to this, periodontitis was also significantly associated with the need for ventilators in non-smokers.
- 9 times more likely to die compared to those who do not have periodontitis.
Recommendations from the Study
According to Lior Shapira, EFP president-elect and professor of periodontology, the results of the study suggest that the inflammation in the oral cavity may open the door to the coronavirus becoming more violent. Oral care should be part of the health recommendations to reduce the risk of severe Covid-19 outcomes.
Professor Nicola West, EFP secretary general, added: “This study highlights another association between gum disease and our systemic health and reiterates the need for ongoing, lifelong dental care for people susceptible to gum disease and a strong preventive approach to periodontitis for populations as a whole.
Therefore, it is essential to keep on top of your oral hygiene, and you if think you may have gum disease, see your dentist or periodontist immediately.
What do we think?
As it has been identified that periodontitis is a risk factor for COVID-19 complications, we want to share this information with as many people as possible to help reduce severe complications and fatality from COVID-19. It is not surprising that this connection has been made as COVID-19 complications are from a severe inflammatory reaction, that shares similar indicators as periodontitis.
This study highlights the importance of keeping good oral hygiene routines throughout this pandemic. If you have any worries about your oral health and gum disease, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.