If you don’t brush your teeth, you will get into trouble with the dentist – but since the pandemic, it can also lead to bigger problems. There is increasing evidence that poor oral health increases the risk of Covid.
research shows that people with poor oral health can have more severe symptoms when they contract the coronavirus.
Covid patients who also have inflammation of the gums 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit than without.
They are 4.5 times as likely to need to be connected to a ventilator and nine times as likely to die from Covid.
This may seem shocking, but the fact that there is a link between oral health and Covid is less surprising when one considers the link between oral hygiene and other diseases.
Poor oral hygiene has been linked to the exacerbation of many other diseases.
This mainly happens when poor hygiene is maintained over a long period of time, which is the case Dysbiosis – where the bacteria in the mouth go from a peaceful to an aggressive state.
Once the bacteria in the mouth get worse, they can cause gum disease, chew on the handkerchiefs of the mouth and enters the bloodstream. Once there, the bacteria can then flow through the body and settle in various organs, increasing the level of inflammation and, over time, contributing to various specific and chronic diseases.
In fact, in this case, there is hardly any part of the body that may not be affected. Poor oral health can affect that heart, to lift Blood pressure and aggravate diabetes by increasing Blood sugar level.
Is the same thing happening with Covid?
Possibly. Compared to people with mild or moderate symptoms, people with severe Covid have elevated levels of a certain marker of inflammation (called CRP).
research shows that people with poor oral health sometimes also have elevated CRP and cytokine levels – suggesting that gum disease can trigger the same eager immune response as Covid (albeit to a lesser extent).
So if the two diseases occur at the same time, with coronavirus and aggressive oral bacteria circling in the blood, it is possible that together they cause the immune response to damage the body’s own tissues, resulting in worse outcomes for people.
However, we currently know little about how exactly oral hygiene and Covid interact, and it could be that they combine in other ways to make the disease worse, too.
For example a big problem in Covid and other respiratory viral diseases are bacterial superinfections. Areas directly infected with the virus, such as the lungs and respiratory tract, are simultaneously infected with bacteria.
It is not known exactly what effects they have, but it is reasonable to assume that these simultaneous infections increase the risk of serious illness and death.
When a person’s oral hygiene is poor it can increase their risk of superinfection. Poor oral hygiene leads to more aggressive bacteria in the mouth, which can then easily be inhaled Airways and lungs to cause superinfection.
In addition, poor oral health can also help infect the body with the coronavirus. Enzymes from the bacteria that cause gum disease can change the surface of the mouth and respiratory tract, which makes it easier for other microbes – such as the coronavirus – to adhere to and grow on these surfaces.
Over time, it will become clearer how oral health affects the progression of Covid. For some people, all of these mechanisms may be at play at the same time.
But until then there is enough evidence to consider poor oral hygiene as a risk factor for complications in Covid sufferers – and especially in those who already suffer from diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular diseases, as these can be due to poor oral health and are themselves risk factors for Covid.
Therefore, proper oral hygiene is more important than ever. That means brushing with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes twice a day and going to the dentist regularly.
Hopefully you won’t get the coronavirus, but if you do, good oral health and taking care of your mouth can greatly reduce your risk of developing severe symptoms.
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