New research links gum disease to increased risk of Covid-19 complications

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A new study has linked gum disease to an increased risk of Covid-19 complications.

Research conducted by a team at the University of Birmingham found that dental plaque and inflammation of the gums contributed to an elevated risk of severe symptoms of Covid-19. The team discovered that collections of plaque and periodontal swelling increased the risk of infections affecting the lungs. Evidence indicates that the blood vessels in the lungs, rather than the airways, are impacted by Covid-19.

The findings of the study have been published in the Journal of Oral Medicine and Dental Research. Co-author and professor of periodontology at the university, Iain Chapple, explained that the study may help experts to understand why some people who contract Covid-19 develop lung disease and others do not. It could also help teams to manage Covid-19 cases and reduce risks by using simple treatments that improve dental health.

Prof Chapple said that gum disease makes the gums “leakier,” which allows viruses and other microorganisms to enter the bloodstream. Measures like brushing, flossing and using mouthwash can help to lower the risk of plaque formation and collection. Using mouthwash has also been shown to reduce the concentration of the virus in the saliva.

Gum disease is largely preventable, yet it is the most common cause of premature tooth loss in adults in the UK. As scientists, public health teams and medical professionals work to combat Covid-19 and bring the virus under control, the findings of this latest study could help to lower risks of severe complications by promoting good oral health.

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