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Gum Disease Linked to COVID-19 Complications


Feb 03, 2021


Dentistry Today


Picture of a gum

COVID-19 patients are at least three times more likely to experience complications if they also have gum disease, according to an international team of researchers. The study of more than 500 patients with COVID-19 found that those with gum disease were 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care, 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator, and almost nine times more likely to die compared to those without gum disease. Also, blood markers indicating inflammation in the body were significantly higher in COVID-19 patients who had gum disease compared to those who did not, suggesting that inflammation may explain the raised complication rates. “The results of the study suggest that the inflammation in the oral cavity may open the door to the coronavirus becoming more violent,” said Lior Shapira, president-elect of the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP). “Oral care should be part of the health recommendations to reduce the risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes.” Periodontitis affects up to half of all adults worldwide. It causes inflammation of the gums, and, if left untreated, inflammation can spread throughout the body. COVID-19 is associated with an inflammatory response that may be fatal. The nationwide case-control study was conducted in Qatar, which has electronic health records including medical and dental data. It included 568 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between February and July 2020. Of these patients, 40 had complications such as intensive care unit (ICU) admission, ventilator requirements, or death, and 528 did not. Information was collected on gum disease and other factors that might be associated with COVID-19 complications including body mass index (BMI), smoking, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Data also was obtained on blood levels of chemicals related to inflammation in the body. Of the 568 patients, 258 (45%) had gum disease. After adjusting for age, sex, BMI, smoking status, and other conditions, the odds ratios for COVID-19 complications in patients with gum disease, compared to those without gum disease, were 3.67 for all COVID-19 complications, 3.54 for ICU admission, 4.57 for ventilator requirement, and 8.81 for death. If a causal link is established between periodontitis and increased rates of adverse outcomes in COVID-19 patients, the researchers said, establishing and maintaining periodontal health may become an important part in their care. Also, oral bacteria in patients with periodontitis can be inhaled and infect the lungs, particularly in those using a ventilator, said researcher Mariano Sanz of the Complutense University of Madrid. “This may contribute to the deterioration of patients with COVID-19 and raise the risk of death,” Sanz said. “Hospital staff should identify COVID-19 patients with periodontitis and use oral antiseptics to reduce transmission of bacteria.” The association between periodontitis and lung diseases including asthma, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is well established, Shapira said. “This study adds further evidence to the links between oral health and respiratory conditions. Periodontitis is a common disease but can be prevented and treated,” Shapira said. “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,” said Nicola West, EFP secretary general.


For children with autism, trips to the dentist just got easier


May 11, 2015


University of Southern California


Adjusting the environment of a dentist's office can make routine cleanings less stressful for children with autism, research shows. Children with autism spectrum disorders -- as well as some typically developing children -- often show heightened responses to sensory input and find these sensations uncomfortable. As such, the dental office, with its bright lights, loud sounds from the dental equipment, and touch of children in and around the mouth, present particular challenges for such children

Treating gum disease may help reduce symptoms of prostate inflammation,

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter


FRIDAY, May 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Treating gum disease may help reduce symptoms of prostate inflammation, which can make urination difficult, a small study suggests.

Previous research has shown a link between gum disease and prostate inflammation -- called prostatitis.

The study included 27 men, age 21 and older, who had prostatitis and moderate to severe gum disease. The men underwent treatment for gum disease and showed significant improvement in their gums within four to eight weeks, the study authors said.

The men received no treatment for their prostatitis, but symptoms of the condition improved in 21 of 27 of them after their gum disease was treated, according to the study published recently in the journal Dentistry.

"This study shows that if we treat the gum disease, it can improve the symptoms of prostatitis and the quality of life for those who have the disease," corresponding author Dr. Nabil Bissada, chair of periodontics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said in a university news release.

Gum disease affects more than the mouth. It also can cause inflammation in other parts of the body, Bissada said. Previous research at Case Western had found a link between gum disease and fetal deaths, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis, the researchers said.

Bissada said he wants to make gum disease treatment a standard part of treatment for prostate disease, much like dental checkups are advised before heart surgery or for women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy.