It’s been over a year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in the United States. Since then, we’ve learned a lot about the virus but there is still a lot that’s unknown. One of the first things medical professionals learned is which underlying conditions caused a higher risk of complications. Some of these underlying conditions were asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and obesity.

Recently, it was discovered that gum disease is another underlying condition that could increase the risk for COVID-19 complications. 

closeup of a woman pointing to her red, inflamed gums

Recent Study Confirms Gum Disease Can Increase COVID-19 Complications

A recent study conducted by researchers in Qatar concluded that people who have periodontal disease have a higher risk of COVID-19 complications than those who do not. The study involved more than 500 patients who tested positive for COVID-19. It concluded that those with gum disease were 3.5 times more likely to need intensive care, 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator, and had a 9 times higher risk of death due to COVID-19 compared to those who did not have gum disease.

The study also examined inflammation levels in the patients and found that those with gum disease and COVID-19 had significantly more inflammation in the body than those without gum disease. The high levels of inflammation could indicate why patients with gum disease experience a higher risk of complications.

The president-elect of the European Federation of Periodontology, Lior Shapira claimed that gum disease opens the floodgates for COVID-19 to become more harmful to the body. He recommended good oral hygiene routines to reduce the risk of COVID-19 complications.

Currently, over half of adults in the world have some form of gum disease. Periodontal disease generally causes an inflammatory response in the gums that without treatment can spread to the rest of the body. COVID-19 also gives an inflammatory response, and when the two combine, they can become fatal.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

If there’s one takeaway from this recent study, is that gum disease shouldn’t be taken lightly. Not only can it increase COVID-19 complications, but it can lead to bone loss and tooth loss. Fortunately, gum disease is preventable and treatable. The key is to catch it as soon as you notice symptoms arrive and get treatment promptly. Knowing which symptoms to look for is one of the best places to start. If you notice any of the following symptoms, please contact StarImage Southlake for a consultation.

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Tender gums
  • Receding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Changes to bite
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss
  • Painful chewing
  • Spaces between the teeth

Gum Disease Prevention

Preventing gum disease is the easiest thing you can do. Some patients might be at a higher risk of developing gum disease due to habits or genetics, but you can still take extra steps to prevent gum disease from occurring.

Brushing and Flossing

One of the best ways to prevent gum disease is by brushing your teeth twice a day. This should be something you already do but if you’re not, you need to. Brushing your teeth in the morning and at night before bed helps remove plaque and debris from your teeth and near your gum line. Without brushing it away, it can harden into tartar and the bacteria can infect your gums.

In addition to brushing twice a day, you should floss at least once per day. If you’re only going to floss once per day, we recommend doing it before you brush your teeth at night. This way, your teeth are perfectly clean while you sleep at night and bacteria don’t have time to harbor and infect your mouth. Flossing is essential for removing plaque and debris from between your teeth and underneath your gum line. According to a study conducted by the ADA, only 16% of people floss once per day. Over 50% of people who didn’t floss regularly said it was too time-consuming. However, if you skip flossing, odds are you will spend more time in the dentist’s chair filling cavities and treating gum disease.

If you dislike flossing, try out different flossing options until you find one you like. Tape floss tends to feel more comfortable. You can also try a flosser or a water flosser. Doing some form of flossing is better than none at all.

Dental Cleanings

In addition to brushing and flossing, you should also visit your dentist regularly (every six months) for dental cleanings. When you get a professional dental cleaning, your Southlake, TX dentist removes plaque and tartar from your teeth and from beneath the gum line. Doing this every six months ensures that you reduce your risk of developing gum disease.

As a bonus, visiting the dentist every six months is also a chance for your dentist to catch gum disease in its earliest stages. If caught early, gum disease can do less damage. It may only require scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) to treat.

Get Gum Disease Treatment in Southlake

If you think you might have gum disease, don’t wait around to find out. It can potentially cause complications if you contract COVID-19. StarImage Dental Boutique & Oral Surgery offers gum disease treatment in Southlake for all stages of gum disease. Contact us at (817) 587-4566 to book an appointment and to learn more about laser gum treatment.