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From the beginning of the pandemic, experts noticed patterns in what appeared to be completely senseless and random to those not involved in healthcare. And that was that certain conditions were the reason some infected with COVID-19 survived while others weren’t so lucky.
As more and more data was gathered from the frontlines around the globe, we were warned about the added risk of a severe infection, or worse, death from COVID-19, if you were older, had heart problems, lung issues, diabetes and were even overweight.
Now another has come out of the shadows…
One thing that was put on the backburner at the start of the pandemic was dental care. Many of us felt safer skipping everything but emergency visits for fear of COVID-19 particles in the air, lurking on surfaces and the unknowns about the possibility of transmission in the dentist’s chair.
Yet, according to a new study, if you’ve been putting off regular dental visits, you could actually be increasing your risk of dying if you get COVID-19.
Intensive care, ventilator and high risks
The team of international researchers examined the health records of 568 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between February and July of last year — at the height of the pandemic.
They then determined the likelihood each patient had of complications — including the need for intensive care or a ventilator and death (some complication, right?) — and compared that risk to the patient’s gum health.
And here’s what their results revealed:
- Gum disease increased the risk of death in COVID patients by a whopping 8.81 (almost nine) times!
- Having gum disease was associated with a 3.54 times higher risk of ending up in intensive care.
- Patients suffering from gum disease were 4.57 times more likely to need a ventilator.
It’s alarming to realize that intensive care, ventilators and never leaving the hospital could happen if you have periodontitis and contract COVID.
Overall, patients with gum disease are 3.67 times more likely to suffer from COVID complications.
The findings were so alarming that study co-author Professor Mariano Sanz of Complutense University in Madrid says, “Hospital staff should identify COVID-19 patients with periodontitis and use oral antiseptics to reduce transmission of bacteria.”
The spread of inflammation to the lungs
But what in the world does gum disease have to do with dying from COVID-19?
Well, according to the researchers, it’s all rooted in the same thing — inflammation.
You see, gum disease result in inflammation in your mouth, leading to swelling and bleeding around your teeth. And when not properly treated, that inflammation can spread rapidly, making its way from your mouth (where it’s bad) to your lungs (where it can be deadly).
Even more frightening, the researchers point out that COVID patients who are on ventilators may be especially vulnerable, since they’re much more likely to inhale oral bacteria.
All in all, the researchers say that, “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 for severe COVID-19 outcomes.”
Maintaining healthy gums
This new research makes it more important than ever before to maintain optimal oral health.
Follow good dental hygiene practices — brushing and flossing at least twice a day — and eat a healthy diet. Getting plenty of physical activity and avoiding smoking are also vital to keeping your gums in tip-top shape.
And if you do have oral inflammation, there are special mouthwashes and kinds of toothpaste available that can help. Remember, when we learned that using mouthwash could cut down on COVID-19 transmission? Just one more reason to use it right now.
One more tip from my own dental hygienist is to always floss before your brush instead of after since the floss can get deeper into the gums and you can then brush away any particles.
Remember, oral hygiene has always been serious business. Previous links have been found between gum disease and heart health, but with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s even clearer that the health of your gums plays a direct role in the health of the rest of your body.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!