What is Periodontal Disease?
You may have heard the term “periodontal disease” or “gum disease” at your dental office before. Periodontal disease is defined as serious infection and inflammation of the gums and bone due to bacteria and plaque build up in the mouth. This can cause bleeding and swollen gums, separating between the gum and tooth (gum pockets), and tooth loss, but it can also impact overall health. Periodontal disease can become a risk factor towards heart disease and lung disease, or it may become an additional complication for those with diabetes.
When there is severe periodontal disease in the mouth, the body needs to respond to the unwanted bacteria with inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural healing system. Small proteins are released during inflammation (called cytokines) in order to fight infection, but since there is easy access to the blood stream, through gum pockets, these cytokines can move beyond the area where the infection began and can harm other tissues throughout the body. This is why we worry when a patient has heart disease and periodontal disease. Those cytokines and bacteria from the periodontal disease can travel to their heart!
How is this connected to COVID-19?
A study was done with health records from the State of Qatar from February to July 2020 (https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpe.13435). The study compared two groups of Covid-19 patients:
Group 1: those with severe COVID conditions such as admission to the ICU, being placed on a ventilator, or death
Group 2: those that did not have major complications from COVID
The dental records of the two groups were compared, looking specifically for periodontal disease.
It was found that out of 568 patients, the patients with periodontal disease were almost 3 times more likely to experience severe COVID-19 complications (such as admission to the ICU, being placed on a ventilator, or death). Also, blood markers that indicate inflammation in the body were higher in COVID-19 patients with periodontal disease compared to those without periodontal disease.
What can you do to prevent periodontal disease?
Brush your teeth at least twice a day!
Floss at least once a day to remove any food or plaque between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. This will help prevent any plaque from building up under the gum line as well.
Use mouthwash to help remove any other food particles, it also helps reduce plaque!
Avoid smoking and eat a balanced diet.
See your dentist regularly! it is important to keep up with your 6-month cleaning appointments! It allows your dentist to check on your teeth and identify issues early!
Clinton Dental Care is a full-service comprehensive health dental office located in Clinton, South Carolina.. Services provided include hygiene, restorative, crown and bridge, esthetics, and sleep medicine, and more. We have been serving Laurens County and surrounding areas since 1977.