The COVID connection: how leaving gum disease untreated may increase your risk of COVID-19 complications

Written by: Dr Neesha Patel
Published:
Edited by: Cameron Gibson-Watt

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, encompasses  gingivitis and periodontitis. It is a bacterial infection involving the gums and often the bone that surrounds your teeth. Gum diseases can affect just one tooth or many teeth.

 

In this article, Dr Neesha Patel, a leading consultant periodontist practicing at Pure Periodontics in London, explains more about gum disease and its newly found connection with COVID-19, as well as how you can safeguard against the virus and keep your periodontal health under control!

 

Gums

 

How common is gum disease?

Gum disease  is a chronic inflammatory disease that damages the soft tissue and bone supporting your teeth. It is estimated that around  50 per cent of the population suffer from a mild or moderate form of the disease, while 10% are believed to have a severe form.

 

It is one of the most prevalent non-communicable diseases, but if it’s diagnosed and treated promptly and you maintain proper oral hygiene, the damage caused by periodontitis can be stopped! Periodontitis is the sixth most common condition affecting humanity and has long been linked with respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even premature mortality.

 

How is gum disease linked to COVID-19?

Gum disease is currently under research with regards to its connection to COVID-19. In its moderate to severe forms, the disease has been identified as placing patients with COVID-19 at a much higher risk of COVID complications. Specifically, there has been a link shown between patients with pre-existing periodontitis and the increased risk of ICU admission, the need for assisted ventilation and ultimately, the death of patients who also acquire COVID-19.

 

A recent study has shown that more than 80% of all patients who had COVID complications had periodontitis compared to just 43% of those without COVID complications.

 

While continued research needs to be conducted to assess exactly how significant the correlation is between these diseases, the initial findings demonstrate an extraordinarily compelling link between periodontitis and COVID-19.

 

Where are we with COVID-19?

Since China reported its first cases to the World Health Organization in December of 2019, COVID-19 has been reported in 219 countries and territories. So far, 108.5 million cases have been reported and there have been 2.4 million deaths so far*. There is no disputing that COVID’s impact is on a global scale.

 

COVID-19 shows no sign of going anywhere soon. The new variants have emerged and are rapidly spreading. Whilst we have become better at adapting to it by wearing masks, following social distancing and frequent hand-washing, it has altered the lives of all of us, forcing us to change how we go about our regular day-to-day activities.

 

How can you look after your health?

In the UK, we have all been trying to implement positive and proactive practices. While we wait to receive our COVID-19 vaccines, it is important to pay closer attention to your stress and anxiety levels, as when elevated for prolonged periods they are known to weaken the immune system.

 

Many people have also become more proactive with their nutritional nourishment and where possible, choosing nutrient and vitamin-rich foods and daily supplements or multi-vitamins to boost immunity. But what about your periodontal health? And how can you improve it?

 

Get proactive with Pure Periodontics – how we can help your periodontal health!

Given the findings on how gum disease can impact your ability to fight COVID-19, it’s now more important than ever to be proactive about your periodontal health!

 

Whether you’re currently undergoing periodontal treatment with us or are worried about your gum health, Pure Periodontics, London’s premier multi-award-winning specialist periodontics practice is here to help you!

 

Pure Periodontics specialises in treating periodontal (gum) problems such as gum inflammation, infections and the build-up of plaque and tartar. Preventing, diagnosing and treating periodontal problems is the practice’s specialist area, so you can be confident in our excellent services. 

 

If you are worried about your periodontal health and would like to get it checked, Dr Neesha Patel specialises in advanced cases of periodontal diseases as well as aesthetic periodontal treatment at Pure Periodontics. To book an appointment with her, head to her Top Doctors profile.

 

*Statistics in this article are based on those reported when the article was written in March 2021.

By Dr Neesha Patel
Dentistry

Dr Neesha Patel is a leading consultant periodontist in London who is also the Clinical Director at Pure Periodontics clinic. She specialises in laser periodontics and all aspects of gum health including receding gum, gum disease and gummy smile treatment.

Dr Patel has worked in both general practice and hospital settings, including restorative dentistry and oral and maxillofacial surgery. She gained postgraduate qualifications from the FGDP of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and has since gained a Masters in Clinical Dentistry (Periodontics) from Queen Mary University with distinction.

She also successfully completed the Membership in Restorative Dentistry of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh examination and was awarded specialist status by the General Dental Council. Dr Patel lectures extensively on continuing education courses and newly-qualified dentists.

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