Why has Gum Disease Been Linked to Severe Cases of COVID-19?

March 30, 2021 in Dentistry by mccarl_dental

Since the first cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), medical professionals have warned patients with systemic health concerns that they may be at greater risk to contract severe or life threatening cases of COVID-19. Recent research indicates that periodontal (gum) disease is one of the high risk conditions related to increased COVID-19 risks. In this blog, we’ll talk through some of the oral health concerns that seem to be connected with an increase in COVID-19 cases and the severity of this condition.

Connection Between Gum Disease & COVID-19

Research showed that those with gum disease are more than three times as likely to be admitted to the ICU, more than four times as likely to need a ventilator, and almost nine times as likely to die from COVID-19. If you have preexisting gum disease, it’s essential to manage your condition with at-home care and in-office maintenance visits and reach out to your physician at the earliest signs of COVID-19. Like other connections between gum disease and full body health, inflammation seems to be the underlying cause of increased risk for COVID-19 health concerns among periodontal disease sufferers, and as research continues, medical professionals will be better equipped to help patients manage both periodontal disease and COVID-19 together.

Increase in Stress-Related Oral Health Conditions

In addition to an increased risk for gum disease sufferers, COVID-19 also seems to be linked to an increase in other stress-related oral health conditions. In the fall of 2020, the American Dental Association (ADA) Health Policy Institute surveyed dentists who reported a 60% increase in teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism). An early 2021 study revealed that 70% of dentists are now reporting an increase in bruxism cases. Since these numbers continue to rise, there seems to be a direct correlation between stress-related teeth grinding and clenching and the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, about 60% of dentists reported seeing an increase in stress-induced oral health concerns like chipped teeth, broken teeth, and TMJ dysfunction. If you’re experiencing toothache, jaw pain, morning headaches, and other warning signs, of stress-related bruxism, reach out to your dentist right away.

Changes in Oral Health NOT Related to Mask Wear

Some recent news reports speculated that protective face mask wear leads to the increase in oral health concerns, but the ADA Health Policy Institute research does not support a correlation between mask wear and oral health concerns, so it is completely safe to wear a mask

What Can I Do?

If you have gum disease, make sure to maintain and improve your at-home care routine. You should also make sure to keep up with your preventive dentistry visits twice a year to receive dental checkups and teeth cleanings from a team of professionals who can monitor your smile for oral health concerns. If you notice any signs of gum disease or other stress-related oral health concerns, get in touch with your dentist for treatment right away.

Meet the McCarl Dental Group

At McCarl Dental Group, our Greenbelt, MD dentists work with patients to achieve and maintain healthy, beautiful smiles. Whether you’re struggling with a  gum disease flareup or it’s time for your preventive dental checkup and teeth cleaning, we’re here to help you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to schedule an appointment today.