The Scientific Links Between Covid-19 Symptoms and Oral Hygiene.
In this difficult time of the covid-19 pandemic, we need to be aware of all factors that may cause symptoms to become more severe. There is much scientific evidence telling us that with top oral health, it is possible that the effects of covid-19 may be less severe. Here are some studies that may help make the decision to keep your oral hygiene regiment as robust as ever:
What scientists have found.
- Covid-19 affects people in different ways, with patients exhibiting a range of symptoms and severity. While risk factors such as age, gender and overall health may increase the risk of complications, there is still a high proportion of patients with no identified risk factors who suffer from severe side effects and complications. It has been found that 10-15% of patients under 60 years old with no risk factors are demonstrating moderate to severe reactions to covid-19.1 Covid-19 is viral, but it is suspected that in severe cases, bacterial superinfections may contribute to causing complications such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Scientists have been studying the connections between a high amount of bacteria in the mouth with complications from the virus and how improving oral health may reduce the risk.
- In a study by Professor Chapple and his research team at the University of Birmingham, it was found that the covid-19 virus could pass into people’s lungs from saliva with the virus moving directly from the mouth into the bloodstream. It is particularly apparent in patients suffering from gum disease. Further evidence showed that the blood vessels in the lungs were affected with lung disease from the virus with high concentration of the virus in saliva associated with periodontitis in patients exhibiting more extreme symptoms.
In this study, researchers found that dental plaque accumulations and periodontal inflammation further intensify the likelihood of the covid-19 virus reaching the lungs and causing these sever cases of infection. This discovery could make effective oral hygiene and potentially life-saving accomplishment. They highly recommend we take action to heighten our oral hygiene regime and reduce factors that may cause gum disease such as a plague build-up.
- Dr. Graham Lloyd-Jones, a radiologist from the UK, has observed in lung CT scans of patients suffering form covid-19 lung disease a potential entry point into the bloodstream. This lead to a collaboration between medical and dental research. The team consisting of Professor Iain Chapple at the University of Birmingham suggests that this model my help with the understanding of why some patients develop covid-19 lung disease and others do not. He suggested that this could help us manage the virus and explore simple treatments that target the mouth and may potentially reduce the risk of lung disease.
The researchers proposed that dental plaque accumulation and periodontal inflammation further intensify the likelihood of the covid-19 virus reaching the lungs and causing more severe cases of the infection.
Professor Chapple stated that, “gum disease makes the gums leakier, allowing microorganisms to enter into the blood. Simple measures – such as careful toothbrushing and interdental brushing to reduce plaque build-up, along with specific mouthwashes, or even saltwater rinsing to reduce gingival inflammation – could help decrease the virus’ concentration in saliva and help mitigate the development of lung disease and reduce the risk of deterioration to severe covid-19.”
This research team added further experts from Salisbury District Hospital, UK; the University of Birmingham, UK; and the Mouth-Body Research Institute, Los Angeles, California and Cape Town, South Africa. They then proposed the model to help prevent the development of lung disease in covid-19 patients. This model was based on the developments found whereby the mouth acted as a breeding ground for the covid-19 virus the thrive. Any reduction of oral immune defenses could thereby make it easier for the virus to enter the bloodstream. The virus could pass through the blood vessels of the gums and flow through to the heart.
“Studies are urgently required to further investigate this new model, but in the meantime daily oral hygiene and plaque control will not only improve oral health and wellbeing, but could also be lifesaving in the context of the pandemic,” added Professor Chapple.
- Additional evidence comes from Professors Cox, O’Grady et al. from the UK who found that poor oral hygiene can cause complex microbial communities in the mouth. They suggest that daily activities towards good oral hygiene is essential for controlling the bacterial load in the mouth and maintaining an equilibrium. This study reported that patients suffering with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus were discovered to have high levels of periodontopathic bacteria which further endorses the connection between the oral bacterial count and covid-19 complications. Their findings suggest that this periodontopathic bacteria are involved in the lung disease process, especially in patients with covid-19 respiratory complications.
- The researchers further cited studies, that reported oral hygiene interventions in patients with pneumonia have substantially improved clinical outcomes and reduced mortality. One in ten pneumonia-related deaths of older nursing home residents (≥65 years) are considered preventable by improving oral hygiene. Increasing good oral care has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia in patients in an intensive care unit.
- Additional complications linked from covid-19 to poor oral hygiene.
Clinical studies by Gong in China show that the development and severity of complications in a patient suffering from covid-19 infection depend on many factors that will affect the patient’s immune response. While 10% of patients with covid-19 have mild to very mild symptoms, there are 20% of patients that develop a severe form of infection related to higher levels of bacteria. The 3 main medical conditions that are associated with this increase in complications from covid-19 are: diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. These 3 conditions are associated with higher levels of oral bacteria and inflammation in general.
- Treatment with antiviral and antibiotics has seen to be successful. In these studies it was reported that bacterial superinfections are common in patients suffering from a severe case of covid-19.
- Recommendations to your oral hygiene during the pandemic.
Sampson & Sampson, in the British Dental Journal have recommended that oral hygiene be maintained, if not improved, during a covid-19 infection in order to reduce the bacterial load in the mouth and the potential risk of a bacterial superinfection. They suggested that poor oral hygiene be considered a risk to post-viral complications, particularly in patients already predisposed to higher bacterial counts due to diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Bacteria present in patients with severe covid-19 are associated with the oral cavity and improved oral hygiene may play a part in reducing the risk of complications.
- Further research from a team of scientists from the UK, South Africa and the US have published findings in the Journal of Oral Medicine and Dental Research (April 2021). They have discovered that specific ingredients of some widely available mouthwashes could be effective in inactivating the covid-19 virus. They found that simple oral hygiene measures, including use of these specific mouthwash products, could help lower the risk of transmission of the virus from the mouth to the lungs in those with covid-19, and help prevent severe instances of the infection.
- Overall, is it recommended that you are diligent with your brushing and flossing routine, It is suggested by the American Dental Association (ADA) the British Dental Association (BDA) and most other dental communities around that world that at this difficult pandemic time, you visit your dentist regularly to keep your teeth plaque free. Dental and medical professionals also advise a regiment of vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system in top condition.
Keeping your whole self in good condition
The covid-19 pandemic has made it very difficult for us to maintain not only our oral health, but our overall health as well. This may be a good time to review our lifestyles and make improvements where needed. Here are a few tips to help you take good care of your health during this time:
- Don’t snack out of boredom. Keep healthy snacks at hand to alleviate cravings (raw vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt or low-fat cheese, etc.).
- Watch your portion sizes. When you have a lot of time on your hands, it’s easy to eat too much and risk gaining weight.
- Chew your food well and rediscover the pleasure and mindfulness of eating nice food.
- Eat together as a family whenever possible.
- If you work long hours, set aside some time to eat well – and enjoy it.
- Try out some healthy new recipes.
Stay physically active.
- Set aside some time to exercise or to practice a sport. This will really help to maintain your physical and mental health.
- If you are at home, add a daily physical activity to your schedule.
- Reconnect with a sport that you haven’t done in a while (walking, jogging, cycling, etc.).
- Consider purchasing equipment to exercise indoors (skipping rope, weights, exercise mat and bands, treadmill, stationary bicycle, etc.).
Try to keep a sleep routine.
- Whether you are at home or at work during the crisis, try your best to get enough sleep each night.
- If you work from home or are off work and feel like it, you can take naps. Make sure they don’t exceed 90 minutes, and take them before 3:00 p.m., so they don’t interfere with your nighttime sleep.
- Try to go to bed and to get up at about the same time every day.
- Review your bedtime routine.
- Reduce electronic device use, caffeine, alcohol and professional activities, or any other stimulating activities at least two hours before you go to bed.
- Choose relaxing activities like reading, meditating, listening to soft music, taking a bath, doing a puzzle, etc.
- Use an anti-smoking aid to increase your chances of success.
- Find activities that can help you to better manage your tobacco cravings.
- Speak to pharmacist about ways to help with your nicotine replacement and ways to cope.
Take care of your mental health on a daily basis
- Learn to better manage stress.
- Provide daily acts of kindness – it has been scientifically proven that taking care of others promotes mental health.
- Focus on creativity and learning. Maybe take up a hobby or learn a new skill.
If you have been putting off your dental care needs due to the covid-19 situation, we want you to know that you and your loved ones can safely visit the Dr. Roze & Associate Dental Clinics for all types of oral care procedures and dental treatments. Our team of dental professionals is ready to provide the level of care and attention that you are accustomed to when in our care, along with our comprehensive set of safety measures, sterilization processes and protective protocols we have implemented during the covid-19 pandemic.
At Dr. Roze & Associates, your comfort and safety is our highest priority. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to speak to us at any time.