Is there a Connection Between Gum Disease And COVID-19 Complications?
A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology found a strong association between periodontitis and complications from COVID-19.
The study examined over 500 COVID-19 patients and concluded that those with gum disease were at an increased risk of being admitted to ICU, needing ventilator support, or dying due to the virus.
Did the Researchers Find the Connection Between Gum Disease And COVID-19?
- Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, has a low fatality rate of 2%, but 14% of patients develop severe conditions requiring hospitalization and oxygen support.
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis, septic shock and multi-organ failure are serious complications associated with COVID-19.
- Cytokine storm syndrome is an exacerbated immune response in which proinflammatory cytokines levels spike up leading to tissue damage.
- Elderly or obese patients as well as those with comorbidities are more likely to experience severe symptoms from COVID 19 infection.
This Is How They Worked On the Study
A case-control study was conducted in the State of Qatar, making use of national electronic health records from February 2020 to July 2020. Patients with complications such as death, ICU admission or assisted ventilation were identified as cases whereas those who were discharged without any major complications acted as controls.
Dental radiographs and information on risk factors like diabetes, smoking habit and body mass index were extracted from the electronic health records for both groups.
Blood parameters such as concentration of D-dimer, C-Reactive protein, vitamin D and WBC levels are also taken into consideration for assessment purposes.
Logistic regression was used to analyze the association between COVID-19 and periodontitis.
Here Is The Outcome Of the Study
- Patients with severe COVID-19 complications were found to be older and had more comorbidities than those suffering from minor symptoms.
- About 80% of the patients with complications had periodontitis.
- The concentration of CRP, D-dimer and WBC was significantly higher in deceased patients compared to surviving ones, while lymphocytes were lower.
- Patients admitted to ICU or requiring assisted ventilation also showed high levels of D-dimer, CRP and WBC concentrations.
- Approximately half of the examined patients tested positive for periodontitis.
Research has suggested that COVID-19 patients with gum disease may be 3 times more likely to require ICU admission, 4.5 times more likely to need assisted ventilation and 9 times more susceptible to death than those without the condition.
Further research is required in order to definitively establish a link between periodontitis and increased risk of severe complications from COVID-19.
It is important for individuals to ensure they take good care of their gums during this time as it may help reduce systemic inflammation which could worsen their condition if infected by the virus.