Doctor's Casebook: It's vital to protect your gums from disease

The vaccination programme is going impressively well and it is bringing hope that we will eventually be free of the pandemic.

Saturday, 13th March 2021, 12:30 pm
Gum disease is linked to other medical issues

The development of these vaccines has been one of the most incredible achievements in medical and scientific history. I would personally encourage everyone to have the vaccine when they are able to.

But all of the other measures that people are taking are still so important to prevent infection.

Now that lockdown is being slowly eased we must still be Covid-aware and observe the mantra: wash hands, cover face and maintain space.

But also, we all need to do whatever we can to stay as healthy as possible, to give your system the best chance to fight an infection off should you catch the virus.

One of the things everyone can do is to maintain good oral hygiene, because a recent study has shown that Covid-19 patients are at least three times more likely to experience complications if they also have gum disease.

This is the finding of a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology. In a study of more than 500 patients with COVID-19 they found that those with gum disease were 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care, 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator, and almost nine times more likely to die compared to those without gum disease.

Testing the blood of these patients, it was found that inflammatory markers were significantly higher than in those without gum disease. This suggests that the presence of inflammation in the body makes Covid complications more likely.

Periodontitis, a serious form of gum disease, affects up to half of all adults worldwide. It causes inflammation of the gums, which can result in inflammation elsewhere in the body. The authors of the study suggested that these findings need to be researched further, and if supported by further study, then maintaining periodontal health may become an important part of the care of Covid-19 patients.

To reduce your risk from gum disease, brush your teeth carefully after meals, clean between your teeth daily using an interdental brush, or floss, avoid smoking and try to maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet. Essentially, keep a clean mouth, especially after eating sweets and sugary drinks.