Periodontitis increases the risk of complications from Covid-19: the signs not to be overlooked. Correct oral hygiene is fundamental
Beware of teeth, gums and more generally inflammation in the mouth. If this rule is always valid, it becomes even more pressing in this period of pandemic: even if they do not affect in terms of contagion prevention, correct hygiene and dentist checks are added to the distancing rules and personal protections that must never be forgotten . For those with ongoing infection, however, they could be important for controlling the disease.
To report the relationship between serious gingivitis and Covid-19 is a research that has evaluated the outcome of Covid-19 in patients with periodontitis, an extensive gingival inflammation that affects 8 million Italians. In those who have very inflamed gums and contract Sars-CoV-2 infection, the probability of death increases by 8.8 times, that of needing assisted ventilation by 4.6 times and the risk of admission to intensive care increases by 3.5 times , with a danger that increases as the severity of periodontitis increases and that would not depend on other concomitant risk factors.
What the research says
Let's be clear: there is no relationship between inflamed gums and a greater risk of contagion. But the study that appeared in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology shows that once the viral infection is contracted, severe gingivitis can have more serious consequences due to the high bacterial load present in the oral cavity, which could favor lung over-infections, and for the chronic systemic inflammation, which could make you more susceptible to the inflammatory storm triggered by SARS-CoV-2.
The data, as the experts of the Italian Society of Periodontology and Implantology (SIdP) point out, confirm the importance of preventing, diagnosing and treating periodontitis but also of considering the oral hygiene of infected patients as a priority.
The case-control study involved 568 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19 between February and July 2020, for whom the integrated medical and dental medical record was available and was conducted in Qatar.
"Among the 40 patients who had complications, as many as 80% had periodontitis – explains Luca Landi, SIdP president – The probability of any complication from Covid-19 was 3.7 times higher in those who had inflamed gums with a evident effect in particular on deaths, almost 9 times more likely. This high risk was also confirmed after carrying out the statistical analysis excluding any confounding factors such as the contextual presence of other known danger elements, such as age, diabetes and smoking. Therefore, patients with more advanced periodontitis had a higher risk of complications, noting how the prevention and early treatment of gum disease protect against the most serious forms of Covid-19 and are essential for general health ".
In patients without complications from Covid-19, the prevalence of periodontitis was 43%, in line with the percentage in the general population of Qatar.
Watch out for gum signals
Gum disease is widespread and there are about 8 million Italians with periodontitis: this chronic inflammation of the tooth support system, which manifests itself with gums that redden and bleed, is the main cause of tooth loss and also involves a general inflammation that can contribute to the onset and worsening of other systemic diseases.
"The chronic systemic inflammation induced by periodontitis could be one of the mechanisms behind the increased risk of complications from Covid-19, because it could make patients more susceptible to the inflammatory storm triggered by the contagion – comments Maurizio Tonetti, Editor of the Journal of Clinical Periodontology – The high bacterial load in the mouth of patients with periodontitis could also play a role, because it could increase the likelihood of broncho-pulmonary over-infections especially in patients who need mechanical ventilation. These initial data, which will have to be confirmed by subsequent studies, underline the importance of preventing, diagnosing and treating periodontitis, now more than ever ".
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