COVID-19 is the dominant issue of 2020, draining energy from other issues and causes as it forces many of us to reshape our lives and livelihoods. As it appears, the pandemic won’t be fading anytime soon, the role COVID-19 plays in other health issues is an important topic of discussion. The Coronavirus has been linked to complications involving diabetes, hypertension, obesity and cardiovascular disease among other ailments. Less well understood are the links between Coronavirus and oral health and hygiene. This has to do with a fundamental attitude many of us share toward our health: overall health goes in one mental box and oral health goes in another. In reality, the two interact as parts of the whole, and this remains true when COVID-19 is involved. As many places are still dealing with spikes in COVID cases, it’s important to understand the interaction between COVID-19 and oral health.
It is important to note COVID-19 is a relatively recent disease, and research is still ongoing. However, with its high profile and a large number of cases available, experts are learning more every day about COVID and the complications it may cause when it intersects with other illnesses and conditions. In particular, COVID is linked to a number of respiratory and cardiac diseases, which complicate recovery for COVID patients and may cause long-lasting health problems.
The important thing to remember with this is while COVID brings many health worries of its own, how it interacts with existing conditions and comorbidities can be particularly dangerous. This is especially true of oral health issues, as we will see.
The Role of Oral Healthy in COVID-19
In particular, the oral health of COVID-19 patients may result in increased incidents of lung infections while dealing with coronavirus. COVID is in many ways a respiratory illness, leaving patients already prone to lung infection and damage. This seems to be especially true for patients who are dealing with periodontal diseases such as gingivitis. Infections of the mouth, teeth, and gums are the result of an increased bacterial load in the oral cavity. This is problematic enough on its own, but combined with COVID things can get more serious. As the patient breathes, they may aspirate particles of their own saliva which in turn may carry harmful bacteria into the lungs. These bacteria are linked to a number of different respiratory infections, including pneumonia. This in and of itself is not a new discovery—there’s a long-understood link between poor oral health, periodontal disease, and pneumonia particularly in the elderly. However, when combined with COVID periodontal-linked pneumonia may complicate or delay recovery, result in long-term health problems and permanent lung damage, and may even cause death. High levels of plaque and ongoing gum disease seem to be key indicators of risk.
What Can You Do?
As always, maintaining good oral health and hygiene habits is important, but especially so during COVID. As the days blur together and schedules are increasingly disrupted, it’s easy to lose track of good brushing and flossing habits. Likewise, stress eating may result in unhealthy dietary habits. All of this can increase the risk of periodontal disease, so make sure you’re holding on to a good oral hygiene routine and eating right.
Regular checkups and cleanings go a long way toward preventing oral health issues. At Queen City Dental Arts, we recognize the role we play in keeping our patients healthy both via dentistry and in providing a safe and sterile office environment. We’ve taken all the appropriate steps to ensure our facilities are clean, safe, and social distancing requirements and masking are observed. If you need an exam, a cleaning, or another dental procedure, get in touch today and make an appointment. We’re here for you.