Oral Health Vs. Covid-19: Is There Any Connection?
In late December 2019, the world recorded the first case of what would rise to be a global pandemic, in Wuhan China.
The significant impact the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has on the world as a whole is common knowledge. According to WHO, at least a case has been recorded in over 213 countries.
And as of 14th May 2020, CNN reported a total of 4,364,172 cases globally.
According to studies from COVID-19 happenings, age, gender, and other complications like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases, affects the body’s ability to survive the virus.
However, another study showed that 52% of COVID-19 deaths had nothing to do with the factors mentioned above. This 52% was the seemingly healthy sect.
It is common knowledge that so many funds and efforts have gone into research for a vaccine or a cure. To this cause, health authorities may have found that they could be a link or somewhat of a connection between SARS-CoV-2 and bacterial load.
The study was based on the fact that there were questions as to whether bacteria may be responsible to some extent for bacterial superinfections and other complications related to the COVID-19, such as Pneumonia, Acute respiratory distress syndrome, and Sepsis.
Since bacterial infections are common among individuals with poor oral health, British researchers examined the prospect of a connection between COVID-19 and oral health.
This examination led to the discovery that COVID-19 complications may also result in an imbalance in the oral microbiome.
This article features the connection between high bacterial load in the mouth and post-viral complications, as found by British researchers and how much effect oral health has on the risk of complications from COVID-19.
In a study by British researchers, they found that they could be a connection between poor oral hygiene and COVID-19 complications that have resulted from severe and acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection.
Victoria Sampson, a researcher from the dental practice 38 Devonshire Street, London, Nawar Kamona from the Centre for Nutrition Education & Lifestyle Management (CNELM), London and Ariane Sampson a researcher from Orthodontics, Cambridge University Hospital Trust, United Kingdom came together to study the link between the severity of the COVID 19 complications and poor oral health.
They gave this research the title Could There Be A Link Between Oral Hygiene And The Severity Of Sars-CoV-2 Infections? The British Dental Journal published this in their latest issue of the journal.
The Covid-19 Pandemic
Since the end of December last year, the number of Coronavirus cases has been on the ascendency, with so many countries reporting high numbers of SARS-CoV-2 or the new coronavirus infection that results in the COVID-19 disease.
On 30th January 2020, WHO, the World Health Organization put out a statement declaring the COVID-19 a global emergency.
And a couple of months later, on 11th March 2020, WHO put out another statement saying the virus is a global pandemic.due to the reason that the virus affected many countries in high populations.
There are 11.8 million confirmed cases globally, 6.42 million recovered, and 544k deaths, according to Google stats.
What Was The Study About?
Across different research and surveys worldwide, there have been many identified risk factors associated with the severe COVID-19 course of the disease and outcome.
While there have been cases where patients recover without needing hospitalization, there have been many with severe complications, requiring oxygen supplementation, and even ventilation.
Some of the risk factors associated with poor outcomes of the disease include high blood pressure, diabetes obesity, and heart disease.
According to the team of researchers, seemingly healthy individuals account for 52% of COVID-19 deaths. And the reasons behind these numbers are yet to be discovered.
In their report, they wrote, the main complication behind COVID 19 were:
Septic shock, and
ARDS (Acute respiratory distress syndrome).
According to their report, another discovery was that the aforementioned complications were shared among individuals with and bacterial overload.
Bacteria And Covid-19 Outcome
Their findings led to the team speculating that they could be a link between COVID-19 infection and “bacterial load.”
This, in turn, led to the team studying the effect of high levels of bacteria superinfections or complications such as;
Respiratory distress syndrome
Can be linked with poor outcome from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Oral Hygiene And Covid-19
According to the British journal, the study explored the complications of COVID-19 seen among those with poor oral health and periodontal disease.
The oral microbiome or the microbial flora of the mouth was examined and its connection with the COVID-19 outcome was analyzed.
The authors wrote, “We explore the connection between high bacterial load in the mouth and post-viral complications, and how improving oral health may reduce the risk of complications from COVID-19.”
The authors of the study wrote that during lung infection, there is a risk of aspirating the oral secretions into the lungs, which could cause infection.
Some of the bacteria present in the mouth that could cause such diseases include “Porphyromonas gingivalis, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Prevotella intermedia,” they wrote.
They explained that periodontitis or infection of the gums 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 reach the lungs leading to infection within them.
Thus, the researchers wrote, “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.”
Results Of The Study
The team wrote, “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, the researchers wrote.
These are all risk factors of severe COVID-19 they wrote.
Conclusions And Implications
This study concludes that 20 percent of the patients with COVID-19 progress to severe illness with high levels of “inflammatory markers (IL-2, IL-6, IL-10), bacteria, and neutrophil-to-lymphocyte count”.
They noted that the oral microbial environment and COVID-19 could be linked. “The four essential risk factors for severe COVID-19, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity, are also associated with poor oral hygiene” per the report.
They stated in the report that “oral hygiene be maintained, if not improved, during a SARS-CoV-2 infection to reduce the bacterial load in the mouth and the potential risk of bacterial superinfection.”
And that “these precautions are particularly important for those with diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.”