Research suggests link between poor oral health and COVID-19 complications

Research suggests link between poor oral health and COVID-19 complications

A recent article in the British Dental Journal suggests that there is a link between poor oral health and COVID-19 complications. The authors suggest that the connection between the oral microbiome and such complications should be investigated in the process of better understanding the outcomes of COVID-19 disease.

The article[i] ‘Could there be a link between oral hygiene and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections?’ by Victoria Sampson, Nawar Kamona and Ariane Sampson was published in the BDJ: volume 228, pages971–975(2020).


On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation identified COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, to be a global emergency. The risk factors already identified for developing complications from a COVID-19 infection are age, gender and comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and cardiovascular disease. These risk factors, however, do not account for the other 52% of deaths arising from COVID-19 in often seemingly healthy individuals.

This paper investigates the potential link between SARS-CoV-2 and bacterial load, questioning whether bacteria may play a role in bacterial superinfections and complications such as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome and sepsis.

The connection between COVID-19 complications and oral health and periodontal disease is also examined, as the comorbidities at highest risk of COVID-19 complications also cause imbalances in the oral microbiome and increase the risk of periodontal disease. We explore the connection between high bacterial load in the mouth and post-viral complications, and how improving oral health may reduce the risk of complications from COVID-19.

Anecdotal note: Tony Jacobs, of GDPUK, notes that during his ICU treatment for COVID-19, he suffered a bacterial infection, Klebsiella. This is a normal commensal bacterium, and was present on throat swabs on admission, which was after several days of viral infection. So, even with good oral hygiene prior to hospital admission, commensals can become pathogenic.



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