Study shows link between periodontitis and COVID-19 complications

COVID-19 patients with periodontitis
Photo: Olena Yakobchuk 123RF

COVID-19 patients are at least three times more likely to experience complications if they also have gum disease, according to research from Qatar. 

The study— published in theJournal of Clinical Periodontology, the official publication of the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP)—examined more than 500 patients with COVID-19 and found that those with gum disease were 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care, 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator, and almost nine times more likely to die compared to those without gum disease.

Blood markers indicating inflammation in the body were significantly higher in COVID-19 patients who had gum disease compared to those who did not, suggesting that inflammation may explain the raised complication rates.

“The results of the study suggest that the inflammation in the oral cavity may open the door to the coronavirus becoming more violent,” EFP president-elect Professor Lior Shapira said. 

“Oral care should be part of the health recommendations to reduce the risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes.”

This was a nationwide case-control study conducted in Qatar, which has electronic health records containing medical and dental data. 

The authors stated: “If a causal link is established between periodontitis and increased rates of adverse outcomes in COVID-19 patients, then establishing and maintaining periodontal health may become an important part of the care of these patients.”

Professor Mariano Sanz of the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, one of the study’s authors, noted that oral bacteria in patients with periodontitis can be inhaled and infect the lungs, particularly in those using a ventilator. 

He said: “This may contribute to the deterioration of patients with COVID-19 and raise the risk of death. Hospital staff should identify COVID-19 patients with periodontitis and use oral antiseptics to reduce transmission of bacteria.”

This article was sourced from News Medical Life Sciences.

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