In recent studies, gum disease has been linked to all sorts of serious health issues, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, osteoporosis and other serious conditions. And we’ve learned in the past year that the greatest number of complications associated with the COVID-19 coronavirus occurs in those patients with underlying health conditions. Most recently, in a report that’s been labeled “The Mouth COVID Connection” (MCC), researchers say that hospitalized COVID-19 patients with prior gum disease may be at a higher risk of respiratory failure.
The landmark finding is based on increased levels of a pro-inflammatory protein produced by various cells, called IL-6. The study showed that COVID-19 hospitalized patients with IL-6 levels above 80pg/ml were 22 times more likely to experience acute respiratory failure. The researchers hope that their findings will convince hospitals, ER doctors and nursing homes to consider gum disease as a hidden source of inflammation.
While the World Health Organization recently discouraged some patients from non-emergency dental treatment, we disagree. Studies like this, along with our existing knowledge of the dangers of gum disease, show the importance of regular screening for periodontal maintenance. To address any concerns, we’ve implemented a series of additional infection control measures that go above and beyond recommendations to keep our patients safe.
Remember: Your oral health is an important part of your overall well-being. Mild gum disease (gingivitis) is easily treatable. But any form of gum disease should be taken seriously.