It is said that brushing your teeth twice a day keeps the dentist away. But now, a new study has indicated that during the pandemic this basic habit could very well keep the other, perhaps regular doctors, away too!
Poor oral hygiene, which has previously been linked with lethal health issues like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, is connected with COVID-19 as well, with research stating that taking simple but effective steps to maintain oral hygiene could help prevent severe forms of COVID-19 infection.
According to the research, the COVID-19-causing coronavirus present in infected people’s saliva could pass into their lungs—moving directly from the mouth to the bloodstream—particularly if the individuals are suffering from gum disease.
As per the new model, the mouth provides a breeding ground for the virus to thrive, and any breach in oral immune defences makes it easier for the virus to infiltrate the bloodstream. Moving from blood vessels in the gums, the virus passes through the neck and chest veins, finally reaching the heart before being pumped into pulmonary arteries and small vessels in the lung base and periphery.
Moreover, dental plaque accumulation and periodontal inflammation can further intensify the likelihood of the SARS-CoV-2 virus reaching the lungs and causing more severe cases of infection.Gum disease makes the gums leakier, allowing microorganisms to enter into the blood. Simple measures—such as careful toothbrushing and interdental brushing to reduce plaque build-up, along with specific mouthwashes, or even salt-water rinsing to reduce gingival inflammation—could help decrease the virus’s concentration in saliva and help mitigate the development of lung disease and reduce the risk of deterioration to severe COVID-19.”
These findings suggest effective oral healthcare could very well be a potentially life-saving action. Therefore, researchers have recommended that the public take simple but effective steps to maintain oral hygiene and reduce factors contributing to gum disease.
(The author is Jr. Resident Indira Gandhi Govt Dental College)