AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - People with gum disease could be more likely to develop severe symptoms or even die from COVID-19.
According to a recent study published by The Journal of Clinical Periodontology, COVID-19 patients with gum disease are nine times more likely to develop complications.
Periodontitis or gum disease is defined as a severe gum infection that can lead to tooth loss and other serious health complications.
One of the main characteristics of gum disease is systemic inflammation, a risk factor shared by other chronic diseases known to influence the severity of COVID-19.
The study found that patients with the virus and gum disease were not only more likely to develop complication that could lead to death, but were also more likely to end up in the ICU and need a ventilator.
Dr. Tom Carr from Panhandle Dental says these findings make sense since untreated gum disease can impact other parts of the body.
“There is a reason it’s called disease, because it will affect and cause more inflammation in other parts.”
The study , which included 568 patients also reported that bacteria from gum disease might aggravate a COVID-19 infection.
One symptom of gum disease is redness.
“Puffy gums instead of flat,” said Dr. Carr. “The gums around the teeth look more like a turtle neck sweater, where is puffy around the collar, instead of a t-shirt. It tends to bleed easily.”
This condition can be pass down through generations or caused by a bad diet or hygiene.
Although periodontitis is very common is fairly preventable.
“Treatment can sometimes be as simple as a single visit to your dentist, and then the key is home care, home care is crucial. Brushing and flossing the correct way,” said Dr. Carr.
Advanced cases of gum disease may require surgery.
Doctors recommend to floss once a day and to brush at least twice a day.
While there is still a lot of research to do doctors say it’s a good reminder that dental checkups are crucial to overall health.