Bleeding, swollen gums linked to severe COVID-19 cases
If you don’t floss regularly, this might persuade you to change your behavior.
Gum disease has been linked to other breathing ailments, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) so we weren’t surprised to find a link to respiratory problems with COVID-19
Dr. Shervin Molayem
Patients with gum disease are more likely to experience severe, potentially life-threatening complications if they contract COVID-19 and need to be hospitalized, according to a new report published online in the Journal of the California Dental Association.
Chronic gum disease, or periodontitis, is characterized by swollen, bleeding gums and bone loss. It produces a bacteria that releases a harmful protein known as IL-6 (interleukin-6). IL-6 is an inflammatory cytokine that can trigger the out-of-control reaction of the immune system known as a cytokine storm.
The report referenced the findings of a German study of 40 hospitalized COVID-19 patients published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in May. It concluded that patients with elevated IL-6 levels were 22 times more likely to suffer respiratory failure and require mechanical ventilation.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 80% of patients placed on ventilators in the United States have died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Gum disease has been linked to other breathing ailments, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) so we weren’t surprised to find a link to respiratory problems with COVID-19,” said Dr. Shervin Molayem, a U.S. dental surgeon based in Los Angeles
and founder of the UCLA Dental Research Journal, in a news release last week.
“What shocked us was the discovery of the protein’s devastating, life-threatening impact to patients once they’re hospitalized. One tiny, inflammatory protein robbed them of their ability to breathe,” he said.