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COVID-19 and oral health: Is there a connection?

Have you ever wondered if there’s a connection between COVID-19 and oral health? For instance, can good oral health help prevent or fight off the coronavirus? Conversely, does poor oral health put one at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and suffering more severe symptoms?

The short answer to both questions: yes!

Only a few months have passed since the major outbreak of the coronavirus, so understandably, there isn’t much data linking COVID-19 and oral health. However, we’ve long known that oral health is closely linked to our overall health. That begs the question of whether there is a connection.

There is a growing number of studies linking oral health with higher risk and severity of the coronavirus. From what we know so far, better oral health is important, maybe even vital, for combatting this virus. Keep reading to learn more.

What is the connection between oral hygiene and overall health?

First, let’s cover the basics of how oral hygiene impacts overall human health.

Numerous studies show that poor oral health is linked with many serious and life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, precancerous stomach lesions, and more.

A potential explanation for why an unhealthy mouth can cause serious health consequences is that illnesses like periodontitis involve harmful bacteria and inflammation. These can spread from the mouth throughout the body, potentially leading to one or multiple diseases.

Therefore, in general, you can consider the upkeep of your oral hygiene as prevention and protection from illness.

What is the connection between oral health and COVID-19?

As discussed above, the maintenance of excellent oral health is a great way to protect your overall health in general. Yet, some studies show a more direct connection between oral health and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus is airborne, meaning it most often enters bodies through the mouth. If the virus first enters an unhealthy environment, there is a heightened risk for severe complications.

Professor Roland Frankenberger, president of the German Society of Dentistry and Oral Medicine, said in a press release that “Dental prophylaxis [an antibiotic cleaning procedure of the teeth] strengthens the immunocompetence at the point of entry of the virus and helps to avoid infection or to mitigate its course.”

Once infected, the coronavirus often affects the lungs. In sufferers with lung complications, this makes the coronavirus very dangerous. Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, has been linked to respiratory ailments like asthma, COPD, and pneumonia. That means, if you have gum disease, you are at a greater risk for severe complications from the coronavirus.

Periodontitis is a serious risk factor for COVID-19 in multiple ways. If you have open wounds in your mouth (such as bleeding gums), there is an entry point in your mouth for germs to enter your bloodstream. This can result in worsened and potentially life-threatening complications from COVID-19.

Finally, the top four risk factors for severe COVID-19 cases are diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. All of these are linked to poor oral health.

How can I best protect myself from COVID-19?

In addition to following the CDC-issued guidelines for protecting yourself and others from the virus, make sure to stay on top of your oral hygiene. Many dentists are safely seeing patients now, so book an appointment!

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Liberman today!

Concerned about your oral health during the age of coronavirus? Schedule an examination with Dr. Liberman today! Proactive dental care is the best defense against cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and other threats to your dental and overall health. To schedule an examination or learn more, contact us today!

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