A new study has found that people with gum disease who contracted COVID-19 were at least three times more likely to have severe complications from the disease, including a higher risk of hospitalization and death.
A team of international researchers published their peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology earlier this month. They evaluated 568 patients, of whom 45 percent had gum disease. The researchers concluded that “periodontitis was associated with higher risk of ICU admission, need for assisted ventilation and death of COVID‐19 patients, and with increased blood levels of biomarkers linked to worse disease outcomes.”
The research team found that COVID-19 patients with gum disease were 3.54 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU, 4.57 times more likely to need a ventilator, and 8.81 times more likely to die from the virus, as compared to those who had contracted the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus but did not have periodontitis.
The reason for the increased risk of COVID-19 complications is that gum disease can be a sign of inflammation throughout the body.
“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 Wilson, president of the American Academy of Periodontology.
“Therefore, maintaining healthy teeth and gums in an effort to avoid developing or worsening periodontal disease is absolutely crucial in the midst of a global pandemic like COVID-19, which is also known to trigger an inflammatory response,” Wilson said in a news release.
Periodontitis is an infection that can cause gums to bleed and can even lead to loss of teeth and surrounding bone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47.2 percent of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease, with the risk increasing with age. Just over 70 percent of adults aged 65 and older have periodontal disease.
Warning signs of gum disease include bad breath or bad taste in the mouth that won’t go away, tender or bleeding gums, as well as loose and sensitive teeth.
Meanwhile, the number of new daily COVID-19 infections in the United States recently fell below 100,000 for the first time this year, according to figures published Feb. 7 by Johns Hopkins University. Newly reported infections dropped to 89,581 from 104,015 on Feb. 6, according to the tally.
The number of daily deaths due to the CCP virus have also fallen sharply in recent days, to 1,276 on Feb. 7, the lowest figure this year, from a historic peak of 5,085 on Feb. 4.