Q: Is there a link between Covid-19 and dental health? I've been hearing some friends say there could be a connection.
A: The relationship between general and dental health and particularly gum health has been studied over and over again and positive links have been established with gum health and diabetes, hypertension, stroke, dementia, low birth weight for pregnant women amongst many others.
It's important to remember that the gums have an extremely good blood supply and unfortunately the mouth is the dirtiest part of the human body with more than 600 varieties of bacteria. These bacteria enter the bloodstream whenever there is a breach – think bleeding gums and this can cause inflammatory markers to rise and this is what is thought to cause the increase in blood pressure, making hypertension worse and also all the other issues that come with it such as heart, brain and kidney disease.
Since Covid-19 is a disease which triggers an exaggerated inflammatory response by the body, any potential bacterial "harbour" can initiate the whole body into a crisis mode and worsen Covid symptoms. In a study of 568 people done last year, people who had advanced gum disease were found to have at least three times more likely chances of severe Covid-19 complications such as needing assisted ventilation, ICU admission and even death.
What this means is having good gum health might not prevent you from catching the Covid-19 but it is thought to reduce the severity of the complications that arise from it. So if you have any signs of gum disease such as bleeding gums, the presence of tartar, visibly red gums and so on, it would be a good idea to have your teeth professionally cleaned and assessed thoroughly to improve gum health. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have some fresh breath.
Dr Tanveer Ahmed is medical director at New Ivory Dental & Implant Clinic. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to email@example.com.