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Oral Health Risk of COVID-19 Death: Study

Regular teeth brushing and proper oral care can play a big role in the fight against COVID-19, as patients with coronavirus infection are nine times more likely to die if they have gum disease, according to a new study. Fox News.

Photo: Shutterstock

A study of more than 500 patients also found that patients with gum disease are 3,5 times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit and 4,5 times more likely to require a ventilator.

In addition, patients with coronavirus and poor gum health are at least three times more likely to experience complications of the disease, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

Blood markers indicating inflammation in the body were markedly higher in patients with gum disease, suggesting that inflammation may explain the increased complication rate.

"The results of the study suggest that inflammation in the mouth could open the way for the spread of the coronavirus," said study co-author Professor Lior Shapira of the Hebrew University in Israel.

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“Oral care should be part of health guidelines to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes,” added Shapira, President-elect of the European Federation of Periodontics.

Periodontitis, a serious form of gum disease that affects up to half of all adults in the world, can spread throughout the body if left untreated, and COVID-19 is associated with an inflammatory response that can be fatal.

The study, which was conducted in Qatar, enrolled 568 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between February and July 2020.

Of these, 40 had complications, including admission to an intensive care unit, mechanical ventilation, or death, and 528 did not.

Other factors, including body mass index, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure and smoking, were also taken into account for complications. Data were also obtained on the level of chemicals in the blood associated with inflammation in the body.

Patients with COVID-19 gum disease were 8,81 times more likely to die than others, while the chances of being admitted to intensive care or ventilated patients were 3,54 and 4,57 times higher, respectively.

“If a causal relationship is established between periodontitis and an increased incidence of adverse outcomes in COVID-19 patients, then treating and maintaining a healthy periodontal condition could be an important part of caring for these patients,” the authors write.

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One of the authors, Professor Mariano Sans of the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain, said bacteria from the oral cavity of patients with periodontitis can enter the airways and infect the lungs.

“This could worsen the condition of patients with COVID-19 and increase the risk of death. Hospital staff should identify COVID-19 patients with periodontitis and use oral antiseptics to reduce the transmission of bacteria, ”he said.

Shapira said the link between periodontitis and lung disease, including asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is well established.

“This study adds additional evidence for the link between oral health and respiratory disease. Periodontitis is a common disease, but it can be prevented and treated, ”Shapira said.

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