Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen new research that shows how having an existing case of periodontal disease can increase a person’s chances of requiring a ventilator for treatment, if they contract COVID-19. Similar studies also show that individuals with periodontal diseases are also more likely to die during coronavirus infections, compared to people with healthy mouths.
Gum Disease and Respiratory Illnesses
Here’s what we’ve known for years: active periodontal infections statistically raise your risk of contracting or battling more severe cases of certain diseases. Pneumonia is just one of them (other examples include diabetes and heart disease). Respiratory illnesses like pneumonia are thought to be linked to gum disease due to the types of cytokines the body produces as well as the chances of inhaling the bacteria during normal respiration.
Older individuals in hospitals or long-term care facilities tend to be at the greatest risk. But if you’re someone who already has respiratory conditions such as asthma or reactive airway disease, your gum health should be a top priority.
How to Lower Your Chances of Severe Reactions
If we know that oral bacteria linked to gum disease can spread into your lungs or raise your risk of a severe COVID-19 reaction, it’s fairly safe to suggest that oral hygiene should be a top priority.
Professional periodontal treatment paired with rigorous daily home hygiene are essential. Be sure to floss around teeth daily to remove soft biofilm from the margins of your gums (where bacteria tend to be the thickest). Slip the floss just under the gumlines to disrupt the bacterial colonies inside of the sulcus/pocket. Remember: gum disease begins underneath the gingival tissues; it’s not possible to clean those areas with a toothbrush alone.
Know the Warning Signs
Symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bleeding when you brush or floss
- Receding gumlines (“long in the tooth”)
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Tooth mobility
- Tartar buildup
- Spaces between teeth
- Food getting caught when you eat
If you’re experiencing any of these warning signs of periodontal disease, it’s important to get screened by our gum specialist in The Woodlands. Should periodontitis be a concern, we’ll show you how to professionally treat the infection and reduce the bacterial load inside of your mouth. That way your immune system can work harder and more efficiently when it comes to secondary infections, such as COVID-19.
More Than Just a Risk to Your Smile
Gum disease can be easy to overlook until it reaches a point of tooth mobility and loss. Sadly, most people don’t realize the toll it takes on their bodies as a whole. Professional periodontal care does more than just work to help save your smile.
Dr. Kip Saunders is one of the most experienced gum health experts in The Woodlands and Conroe areas. If gum disease “runs in your family” or you’re considering a state-of-the-art treatment such as TeethXpress dental implants, we encourage you to call our office. We’ll be happy to meet with you and discuss your concerns. No referral is needed!