Is Oral Hygiene Linked to COVID-19?
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Have you ever wondered if your dental health might connect to COVID-19?
Many of our bodies’ primary functions are linked to oral health, so it is easy to speculate on the relationship between the two. The topic quickly came to a head in March of 2020, when the American Dental Association (ADA) recommended that dental practices postpone all but urgent and emergency procedures.
Luckily, new data is emerging, allowing us to understand what could come next. Even as we face a resurgence of the pandemic, the ADA strongly suggests that dental care continue to be delivered safely. Most important among these new studies are findings that suggest good oral hygiene may decrease the chances of viral infection.
Is Dentistry Safe During COVID-19?
One recent study found that the monthly incidence rate of novel coronavirus infections among dentists has remained below one percent. This could result from many factors, including the fact that 99 percent of dentists are facilitating enhanced infection control protocols. Some of these protocols are regular screenings and improved disinfection methods when treating patients.
What Do Dental Studies Related to COVID-19 Say?
British researchers recently uncovered a possible link between the severity of COVID-19 infection and poor oral hygiene. In this oral hygiene study, researchers found that many of the common complications of COVID-19 (blood clots, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress) were primarily seen in patients who had comorbidities and bacterial overload.
This information led to further investigation, with researchers hypothesizing that there may be a connection between SARS-CoV-2 infection and high “bacterial load” in the mouth. After analyzing the relationship between the lungs and the mouth, researchers established the possible risk of oral secretions reaching the lungs was greater.
Lung health becomes jeopardized when a substantial amount of harmful bacteria begins to inhabit the mouth from gum infections, such as gingivitis and periodontitis. The bacteria from these infections can reach such high levels that it can be easily drawn into the lungs’ airways. As a result, a new infection can begin in the lungs, compromising their strength and making them more susceptible to viruses like SARS-CoV-2.
Can Brushing My Teeth Help Prevent Me From Getting COVID-19?
Brushing your teeth can improve oral hygiene and prevent airway infections that make patients more susceptible to viral infection. While many people only consider brushing their teeth, they do not realize the importance of proper toothbrush hygiene.
Toothbrush hygiene can include:
- Storing your toothbrush away from other people’s toothbrush
- Washing hands with soap and water before/after brushing or flossing
- Using disinfectant wipes for the toothbrush, sink, and surrounding area
- Never share a toothbrush
- Throw away toothbrush after being sick
At the end of their study, researchers concluded that poor oral hygiene could increase the chances of exchanging bacteria between the mouth and the lungs.
Toothbrushing, flossing, and regular visits to your dentist are all keys to good oral hygiene that can lower the risk of infection. Treating gum disease with professional dental procedures is also ideal.
While there is a connection between oral hygiene and COVID-19, it is not the only link. Be sure to follow all social distancing and personal hygiene recommendations to keep yourself and your family safe.
Interested In Learning More?
There is no denying that COVID-19 is scary. But with the right information, patients can take advantage of methods proven to help prevent infection.