The Pandemic you know and the One you may not
At the office of Victor R. Siegel, DDS we continually stress the importance of maintaining healthy gums (periodontal health) as it relates to overall optimal health. As we all continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, we should realize that we are also in the throes of a worldwide pandemic of periodontal disease, and that there may be an association between the two, as it relates to poor outcomes. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology conducted by Marouf N, Cai W, Said KN, et al., concludes that periodontitis (periodontal disease) was associated with higher risk of ICU admission, need for assisted ventilation and death of COVID-19 patients, and with increased blood levels of biomarkers linked to worse disease outcomes.
To read the article click on the link below:
According to the World Health Organization, as of October 14, 2021, the worldwide number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was 239,437,517 and the number of deaths was 4,879,235. As staggering as those numbers appear, periodontal disease affects 743,000,000 worldwide and is rated as the 6th most prevalent disease among all 291 diseases and disorders ever investigated, as reported in the World Oral Health Forum 2017 proceedings of the FDI World Dental Federation.
Symptoms and Health Consequences of Untreated Gum Infection
Periodonal disease is characterized by destruction of the connective tissue and bone attachment to teeth and tooth loss if left untreated. The disease also is characterized by chronic non-resolving inflammation which leads to low degree systemic inflammation and the appearance of inflammatory biomarkers in the blood serum. Periodontal disease is associated with diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even premature mortality. In fact it has been estimated that people with healthy gums live an average of 7 years longer than people with severe periodontal disease. COVID-19 infection severity has been associated with patients suffering comorbitities such as high blood presure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. COVID-19 mortality has been associated with some of the same inflammatory biomarkers that are associated with periodontal disease.
The aim of the study cited above was to estimate the extent to which periodontitis is associated with COVID-19 complications. The study concludes that: "Periodontitis was significantly associated with a higher risk of complications from COVID-19, including ICU admission, need for assisted ventilation and death and increased blood levels of markers linked with worse COVID-19 outcome...". In their discussion, the study's authors mention that successful treatment of periodontitis has been shown to improve the blood serum markers of systemic inflammation, as well as systemic metabolic control. They further state:"If a causal link is established between periodontitis and increased rates of adverse outcomes in COVID-19 patients, then establishing and maintaiining periodontal health may become an important part of the care of thes patients.
So, you may ask, "What is the take away from this article?". The answer is: Brush, Floss and have regular dental check ups and cleanings. It may just keep you off a ventilator!