In an effort to educate our patients and put you at ease, there is no current data or evidence of spread of the coronavirus from the dental chair or dental office. We also practice universal precautions to keep you safe.
Additionally, there is emerging evidence (see below) that suggests maintaining healthy gums can minimize the risks of bacterial lung infections that can accompany Covid-19 viral infections. For these reasons, we sincerely recommend that all patients try their best to stay up to par with their dental cleaning visits—keeping their gums healthy and absent of the harmful strains of bacteria associated with periodontal disease.
It has long been known that periodontal disease in the gums can harbor bacteria associated with bacterial infections in the lungs. This has been studied extensively over the past several decades. Bacteria in the mouth can also contribute to post-viral bacterial infections in the lungs. In other words, periodontal disease in the gums can harbor bacteria that are directly involved in respiratory infections, including those that can accompany a Covid-19 infection.
A recent study published June 26th, 2020 in the British Dental Journal titled “Could there be a link between oral hygiene and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections?” had some interesting information regarding the health of the mouth as it relates to overall body health and COVID-19. The study explored the connection between high bacterial load in the mouth and infection, and how improving oral health may reduce the risk of complications from COVID-19.
The study found that there is a risk of aspirating bacteria and oral secretions into the lungs, which could cause respiratory infections. The study explained that infections in the gums—otherwise known as periodontal disease—is one of the most prevalent causes of harmful bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria lead to the formation of cytokines such as Interleukin 1 (IL1) and Tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which can be detected in the saliva and can reach the lungs leading to infection. The researchers cautioned, “Inadequate oral hygiene can increase the risk of inter-bacterial exchanges between the lungs and the mouth, increasing the risk of respiratory infections and potentially post-viral bacterial complications.”
The authors concluded: “Good oral hygiene has been recognized as a means to prevent airway infections in patients, especially in those over the age of 70”. Those with periodontal disease are at a 25 percent raised risk of heart disease, thrice the risk of getting diabetes, and 20 percent raised risk of getting high blood pressure. These are all risk factors of severe COVID-19.”
As your healthcare providers, we are committed to being proactive in the prevention of disease with our patients—it is one of our fundamental philosophies of care. Due to emerging evidence relating the health of the mouth to overall body health and risk of respiratory infections associated with COVID-19, we would encourage you to maintain your recommended oral health care visits with our hygienists. If you are a high-risk patient, or you desire to be more proactive regarding your health, you should consider more frequent cleanings to minimize your risk.
Dr. Brady Pope and team at Novelly Family Dentistry & Orthodontics
P.S. We’ve posted 2 educational videos below to help you understand a little more about Periodontal Disease. Take a look and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.