The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated symptoms, side effects, and complications are ever-emerging with new studies and findings. One of the latest is a recent study by the American Academy of Periodontology, https://www.perio.org/periodontitis_COVID-19_complications, linking gum disease to severe COVID-19-related complications. Keep reading to learn more about Periodontitis and COVID-19 complications, who is at risk, and what you can do to minimize your risk of experiencing these complications should you contract COVID-19.
What is Periodontitis?
According to the CDC, Periodontal diseases https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/conditions/periodontal-disease.html are mainly the result of infections and inflammation of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth. In its early stage, called gingivitis, the gums can become swollen and red and may bleed. In its more severe form, called periodontitis, the gums can pull away from the tooth, bone can be lost, and the teeth may loosen or fall out. Periodontal disease is primarily seen in adults, and Periodontal disease and tooth decay are the two biggest threats to dental health.
A recent CDC report provides the following data related to the prevalence of periodontitis in the U.S.:
- 2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease.
- Periodontal disease increases with age; 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease.
- This condition is more common in men than women (56.4% vs. 38.4%), those living below the federal poverty level (65.4%), those with less than a high school education (66.9%), and current smokers (64.2%)
Symptoms of Periodontitis
If Periodontitis is left untreated, the teeth can fall out, and ongoing jaw pain may occur. Luckily, it can be treated and reversed if caught early enough, making it essential to learn the signs and symptoms of Periodontitis so that you can get treatment as soon as possible. These symptoms include:
- Bad breath or bad taste that does not go away
- Change in bite and the way your teeth fit
- Change in the fit of dentures or other oral devices
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Loose teeth
- Painful chewing
- Red or swollen gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Tender or bleeding gums
Periodontitis and COVID-19
Systemic inflammation is a side-effect of the COVID-19 virus and can be one of the first symptoms people notice, and it is also a symptom of Periodontitis. The study finds that of the 568 patients studied, those with periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease, were at least three times more likely to experience COVID-19 complications, including death, ICU admission, and the need for assisted ventilation. Additionally, COVID-19 patients with periodontitis showed increased biomarkers associated with worsened disease outcomes, including white blood cell levels, D-dimer, and c-reactive protein.
Who is at Risk?
Most adults over the age of 30 have gum disease, making it a common condition. However, certain factors can put individuals at an increased risk of forming it. These factors include:
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Crooked teeth
- Female hormonal changes, such as with pregnancy or oral contraceptives
- Fillings that have become defective
- Poor oral hygiene
- Taking medications that cause dry mouth
- Underlying immuno-deficiencies (such as AIDS)
What Can I Do?
According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), the nation’s leading organization of periodontists, or gum disease experts, these findings signal the importance of diligent oral care during COVID-19. It is well-established that systemic inflammation is not only linked with periodontal disease but to several other respiratory diseases as well, said Dr. James G. Wilson, President of the AAP. Therefore, maintaining healthy teeth and gums to avoid developing or worsening periodontal disease is crucial in the midst of a global pandemic like COVID-19, which is also known to trigger an inflammatory response.
Ways to prevent Periodontal Disease include:
- Brush your teeth after meals to remove plaque and other build-up
- Floss at least once a day to remove any build-up that has accumulated in between your teeth
- Use mouthwash to kill bacteria
- See whether you have one of the increased risk factors
- Regularly visit your dentist for deeper cleanings
- Visit a dentist who can treat Periodontal Disease, such as Total Freedom Dental
About Total Freedom Dental
Taking care of your teeth is the only way to prevent Periodontitis. However, for many people, it can be too late. Total Freedom Dental offers 24-hour teeth protocol, dental implants, complete and partial dentures, sedation options, and much more.
Our periodontal, dental implant, and alveolar dental surgeon, Dr. Kaiser, has been placing implants since the 1970sâ€“making him one of the nation’s most skilled, knowledgeable, and efficient practitioners in dental implants. The doctor’s experience is key to a smooth and effortless patient experience with a procedure like dental implants.
Total Freedom Dental surpasses the other centers regarding experience, and we are also the industry leader in technology, becoming the country’s first fully digital dental implant center. Our master technicians utilize this state-of-the-art technology to produce a world-class product that is on a level above our competition. Many businesses use technology to improve quality so they can charge more. At Total Freedom Dental, we use our technology so we can charge less.
For more information, visit us at totalfreedomdentalimplants.com.