Is there a connection between oral health and Covid-19?

oral-health-and-covid-19-connection-woman-getting-mouth-swab-test-coronavirus-

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

June 1, 2021

Yes ! Having good oral hygiene can reduce the chances of getting affected by covid and also reduce its severity if you do get it. Our mouth is like a window to our overall health. Not taking care of our oral hygiene would just mean letting the bad bacteria and virus to multiply and fasten the infection process.

Apart from the the other risk factors (underlying medical conditions) like diabetes and heart diseases, the oral bacterial load (bacteria that is in the mouth) is an additional risk factor.

Oral bacterial load, an additional risk factor

human-mouth-virus-infection

So what exactly do I mean by this ?

Whenever there is a bacterial infection in our body the number of neutrophils (soldier cells of our body) is high. And whenever there is a viral infection in the body the number of lymyphocytes (also help fight infection) is high. Patients severely affected with covid showed increase in both neutrophils as well as lymphocytes. This means while covid is the virus, there is also bacterial infection that takes over because of reduced immunity. Hence, reducing the bacterial load in the mouth can help our body fight better.

Explaining further,

Normally there is a constant exchange of good and bad bacteria between the lungs and the mouth. Poor oral health, increases the bacterial load in the mouth, making the chances of it reaching the lungs high. Normally our body can fight these when we are healthy and have higher immunity levels, but when the body is busy fighting viruses like covid 19, these bacterial infections can take over.

Poor gum health increases the risk for covid

Gum disease increases the risk of heart diseases and even diabetes. Pre-covid studies showed that reduction of gum disease significantly reduces the risk of pneumonia.

Studies show one in 10 pneumonia- related deaths in elderly could be prevented by improving oral hygiene. Studies have also shown that bacteria from dentures can enter the lungs and cause infection. With these studies its evident that a good oral hygiene can prevent so many fatal and infectious diseases and with covid, taking care of your mouth is the need of the hour.

Here’s how you can improve your oral hygiene and reduce the chances of getting covid

teeth-protected

1.Tooth brush safety- Certain bacteria and viruses spread through saliva and nasal droplets, including covid. So it goes without saying that sharing your toothbrush is not an option. Remember to change it after 3-4 months.

  • Clean your toothbrush thoroughly with warm water to get rid of germs. You can also disinfect your toothbrush by placing it in an alcoholic mouthwash like listerine for 10 -15 minutes. You can also invest in a toothbrush sterilizer to keep your toothbrush absolutely germ free.
  • Do not cover your toothbrush when it is wet as it can attract more bacteria. Let it completely dry first in case you want to store it.
  • Store your toothbrush separately from the rest of the family’s toothbrushes.

2.Change your toothbrush incase you feel sick or experience any of the early covid symptoms.

  1. Use a floss thread or a floss pick to clean the areas between the teeth. You leave behind 30% bacteria if you fail to floss daily.

5.Brush twice a day and do not forget to use a tongue cleaner. Cleaning your tongue flushes out all the bacteria residing on your tongue which highly improves your oral hygiene.

6.Denture users should make sure they clean their dentures and prosthesis with proper cleaning aids and material.

  1. Have a diet rich in Vit C. It is an essential nutrient for maintaining good health. Vit C supports gum health, protects against gum disease and prevents teeth from loosening. It also helps boosting the overall body immunity.
  2. Make lifestyle changes-Regular exercise can boost your immune system and help fight off infections. It increases blood flow, reduces stress and inflammation, and can strengthen antibodies.

The bottom line

So now we know how important it is to keep a check on our oral health during these times. One easy way to monitor it, is by downloading the DentalDost App and getting your teeth scanned for dental diseases as well as early signs of covid in your mouth.

Highlights

  • Not taking care of your oral hygiene could help the bacteria in the mouth to multiply and breed.
  • Simple oral hygiene measures could help you reduce the chances of getting affected by covid.
  • Keeping your gums healthy is very important as poor gum health could increase the risk of getting affected by covid.
  • Keeping a check on your oral health and taking necessary precautions is the need of the hour.

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Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.
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