Good Oral Hygiene May Be Protective Against Severe COVID-19

Good Oral Hygiene May Be Protective Against Severe COVID-19

Good oral hygiene and gum health may be the key to saving patients from developing severe  COVID-19 illness.

New research has demonstrated that the SARS-CoV-2 present in infected people’s saliva could pass into their lungs by moving directly from the mouth to the bloodstream, particularly if the individuals are suffering from gum disease and inflammation.

Titled ‘The Covid-19 Pathway: A Proposed Oral-Vascular-Pulmonary Route Of Sars-Cov-2 Infection And The Importance Of Oral Healthcare Measures,’ the research has found that any breach in oral tissues can make it easier for the virus to enter the bloodstream from the mouth.

The virus may then pass via the bloodstream to neck and chest blood vessels, where it can reach the heart before being pumped into pulmonary arteries and small vessels in the lung base and periphery.

An accumulation of dental plaque and existing periodontal inflammation can further intensify the likelihood of the SARS-CoV-2 virus reaching the lungs and increasing the risk of developing a more serious infection.

Iain Chapple, Professor of Periodontology at the University of Birmingham and co-author of the study said “This model may help us understand why some individuals develop COVID-19 lung disease and others do not. It could also change the way we manage the virus—exploring cheap or even free treatments targeted at the mouth and, ultimately, saving lives,” reported the The Times of India’s Weather Channel news website.  

“Gum disease makes the gums leakier, allowing microorganisms to enter into the blood. Simple measures—such as careful toothbrushing and interdental brushing to reduce plaque build-up, along with specific mouthwashes, or even salt-water rinsing to reduce gingival inflammation—could help decrease the virus’s concentration in saliva and help mitigate the development of lung disease and reduce the risk of deterioration to severe COVID-19.”

The results of the study strongly suggest effective oral hygiene could be potentially life-saving.

"Studies are urgently required to further investigate this new model, but in the meantime, daily oral hygiene and plaque control will not only improve oral health and well-being but could also be life-saving in the context of the pandemic," Professor Chapple said.

The study, published in  the Journal of Oral Medicine and Dental Research  can be found here.

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