Study links gum disease to COVID-19 complications

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A new study suggests that people who have gum disease may be at risk of developing complications of COVID-19.

Research conducted by oral surgeon, Dr Shervin Molayem, indicates that symptoms of COVID-19 are more severe in patients with gum disease. Dr Molayem suggested that inflammation caused by gum disease elevates the risk of a more severe response to the virus. 

Harmful bacteria from the mouth can travel to other parts of the body, spreading IL-6 protein, which triggers inflammation. Elevated IL-6 levels are linked to respiratory failure, posing a risk of respiratory complications that is 22 times higher. 

In light of the study findings, Dr Molayem is calling for more to be done to screen individuals and provide gum disease treatment to lower the risk of respiratory complications linked to COVID-19. 

The researchers claim that “periodontal interventions” could play an important role in decreasing the severity of symptoms in people who have gum disease and COVID-19. Periodontal disease is also associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, both of which are risk factors for COVID-19 complications. The team is encouraging people to maintain high standards of oral hygiene, in addition to hand washing and washing clothes and face masks regularly.

The findings of the study have been published in the California Dental Association Journal. 

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