British study finds a connection between the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and poor oral health.
As we entered 2020, it’s fairly safe to say that no one expected the year to turn out the way that it did. While the general population has been learning to adapt to living in a world post-COVID-19, scientists, researchers and professionals alike have been studying the virus in order to find connections to prevent further spread and decrease the severity of symptoms.
In a recent collaboration between select dental professionals, it was discovered that an individual’s oral health could have a direct correlation to the severity of their COVID-19 symptoms.
You read correctly, good oral health may prevent severe COVID-19 progression (if you wanted to book a check-up and clean after reading this, we wouldn’t blame you).
What was the purpose of the study?
Over the course of the year, researchers have discovered how coronavirus can affect people in various ways and as research continues, we are discovering how our general health affects the virus as well. Although there are obvious factors which contribute to the severity of the virus, such as age, there is still a very high number of patients with no identified risk factors.
This is to say that a large group of people appear to lead healthy lifestyles before contracting the virus so, why would their symptoms be so severe?
Researchers Victoria Sampson, Nawar Kamona and Ariana Sampson believe that the answer lies in bacteria found in the mouth.
How oral health affects the severity of coronavirus symptoms
Your oral health is a vital benefactor to your overall health. When your teeth and gums are healthy, it is a good indicator that you are taking good care of the rest of your body and are mindful of health. Alternatively, an unhealthy mouth is a nesting ground for gum disease which also increases the risk of developing other serious health issues. When you have tooth decay, you are at risk for severe gum disease, tooth loss, cardiovascular disease (heart attacks), strokes, poorly controlled diabetes, and more.
How bacteria in the mouth could increase the severity of COVID-19 symptoms
Your mouth houses over 700 kinds of bacteria that react to your body depending on what the circumstances are. When you are sick and rundown, the bad bacteria in your mouth can begin to override the good bacteria. In terms of coronavirus, poor oral health allows your immune system to be compromised and therefore more susceptible to further infections, bacteria, fever and cough.
It’s known that periodontitis (gum disease) and tooth decay are the two most common oral diseases that can cause an imbalance of pathological bacteria in the mouth.
From here the periodontally diseased tissues can infiltrate saliva and be exchanged to the lungs. This can increase the risk of respiratory infections.
Superinfections throughout history
It’s suggested that although COVID-19 is the origin, it is suspected that severe cases of bacterial superinfections may contribute to causing additional complications such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
We have seen this pattern throughout history such as in the 1918 influenza pandemic where the primary cause of death was not from the virus itself but from a bacterial superinfection that followed.
The same trend can be seen in the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic where bacterial superinfections were the primary cause of severe cases rather than the virus itself.
The importance of good oral hygiene
Good oral hygiene is not only a counterattack towards viral diseases, but it is also a beneficial defence against any type of sickness. Good dental health is a major key in the grand scheme of your overall health.
The best way to know whether you are on track with your oral health is to visit the dentist! This may seem obvious, but your dentist really is the best source for keeping your oral health on track as they are able to foresee potential issues developing in your mouth.
If you are feeling like you might need a quick check-up and clean, just to stay on track, feel free to get in contact with our team at Somerset Dental Care Narellan!