• Dr. John Chao

Gum Disease (Periodontitis) May Predispose You to COVID-19

Gum Disease (Periodontitis) has long been known to possess the ability to incite an

inflammatory response in gum tissue just like how COVID-19 similarly incites a much more

severe, often lethal, inflammatory phenomenon in the body through chemicals called

“cytokines.” In COVID-19, these cytokines bring about the severe inflammatory responses

called a “cytokine storm.” One such cytokine, called IL17, is also found in gum disease as well

as the blood stream of the patient with periodontitis. In other words, one of the lethal

cytokines (IL17) is found in periodontitis when the patient does not have COVID-19. The

question then is, does periodontitis bring about a higher risk for COVID-19?

According to an article to be published in the November 2020 issue of the “Medical Hypothesis,

“This common pathway of inflammatory response points towards a possible association

between Periodontitis and COVID-19 related adverse outcomes. Understanding of this

association underscores the importance of keeping periodontal disease under check and the

value of maintaining meticulous oral hygiene in the COVID-19 era. It also points towards the

possibility of the presence of periodontal disease as predisposing towards COVID-19 related

adverse outcomes,”

In other words, periodontitis may predispose you to COVID-19.

So, how prevalent is periodontitis? According to the CDC one out of every two American adults aged 30 and over has periodontal disease. A study published in the Journal of Dental Research estimates that 47.2 percent, or 64.7 million American adults, have mild, moderate, or severe

periodontitis. In adults 65 and older, prevalence rate is 70.1 percent.

So, what is periodontitis? It is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and

bone supporting the teeth, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. If left

untreated periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and other chronic inflammatory disease,

such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even obesity.

Therefore, use your mask, practice social distancing, and keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. Seeing your dentist can not only save your teeth, but also your life.

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