Studies conducted around the world have linked periodontitis and respiratory conditions with an increased risk of complications and a higher mortality rate in hospitalized patients – in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. asthma, for example.
Now researchers are examining the link between periodontal disease and respiratory complications from COVID-19, and early research findings suggest dental professionals may need to focus on preventing underlying conditions, such as periodontitis. , which promote systemic inflammation.
This would not only improve the overall health of patients, but could have a significant positive impact on healthcare systems during the COVID-19 pandemic by reducing the need for intensive care and mechanical ventilation for patients. About 20% of patients with COVID-19 develop serious respiratory complications that can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome, which, along with COVID-19-related pneumonia, is the most common cause of death in these patients.
CDA Journal study examines role of cytokine storms in severity of COVID-19 complications
Oral bacteria can be aspirated and affect lung function, increasing the risk of pneumonia and COPD and lung complications potentially related to COVID-19, according to a study in the October 2020 issue of the Journal of the California Dental Association. dedicated to dentistry and COVID -19. The Journal study examines the potential role of cytokine storms – specifically elevated levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) – in the severity of SARSCoV-2.
One of the take-home messages from the study is that oral hygiene interventions and periodontal and dental treatments have the potential to reduce oral bacterial load and systemic inflammatory response. Therefore, treating periodontitis and promoting good plaque control are essential.
“Successful control of periodontal inflammation may benefit the lungs, possibly decreasing the severity and risk of COVID-19-related respiratory problems,” the Journal study concludes.
Periodontal screening, treatment as prevention against COVID-19
Due to the high transmission rate of the novel coronavirus and the much higher risk of respiratory complications from COVID-19 in patients with elevated levels of IL-6, dentists should resort to periodontal screening and treatment as preventive measures. against respiratory ailments, including COVID-19.
Dentists and their teams can promote good oral hygiene by encouraging patients to brush their teeth twice a day for at least two minutes with fluoridated toothpaste and to perform an interproximal cleaning.
However, two minutes of toothbrushing may not be enough for patients with periodontitis. Dentists would identify these patients early to personalize their oral hygiene routines and ensure a rapid reduction in inflammation.
Periodontal treatment is beneficial for systemically healthy patients and for those with lung disease because it can decrease IL-6 levels and decrease inflammation.
To learn more, see “The Mouth-COVID Connection: IL-6 Levels in Periodontal Disease ― Potential Role in COVID-19-Related Respiratory Complications” by Shervin Molayem, DDS, and Carla Cruvinel Pontes, DDS, MsC, PhD.