A recent study conducted by the University of Health Sciences (SBÜ) in Istanbul suggests that people with poor oral hygiene are at greater risk of experiencing more severe COVID-19 symptoms and consequences.
Led by Associate Professor Dursun Ali Şirin and Associate Professor Fatih Özçelik, both from SBÜ, the research suggested that bad dental and oral hygiene has been linked to an increase in the severity of the disease.
Şirin said that poor oral and dental health has a negative effect on the immune system and the body as a whole, starting with the heart and vascular system. Şirin said the research focused on people with poor dental hygiene and found that they had weaker immune systems when looking into the relationship between the condition and ways COVID-19 impacts the body.
The co-author explained that those who suffered from severe COVID-19 complications or died had weak immune systems or serious systemic diseases, including lung conditions, obesity, diabetes and hypertension. Şirin and his team also discovered a correlation between serious systemic diseases and dental and periodontal diseases.
“The oral cavity hosts respiratory pathogens and we see a higher risk of pneumonia in patients who have periodontal diseases. For this reason, we believe that strengthening oral and dental health can help decrease the severity of COVID-19 symptoms,” Şirin told Anadolu Agency (AA).
The study used a sample of 1,500 people, ranging between 20 and 65 years of age, who had all tested positive for COVID-19. The participants' oral examination records and x-ray scans were included in their files.
“We examined the patients' dental radiological images and assessed tooth cavities, periodontal bone loss, chronic endodontic infections and the treatments they had received so that we could produce a dental damage scale that would show dental and oral health on a radiographic chart,” Şirin explained.
The team then divided the patients into four groups according to levels of dental damage, with the groups categorized as healthy, mild, moderate or severe damage.
“When we compared the data statistically, those who had severe dental damage, or the group with the worst dental and oral health so to speak, suffered more severely from COVID-19,” Şirin said.
Şirin underlined that the results do not prove a definitive link between poor dental health and more severe COVID-19 symptoms as there are several factors that affect the disease, but noted that the findings are significant nonetheless.
“A healthy mouth is the first natural barrier against bacteria and viruses,” Şirin said, strongly encouraging people to look after their teeth.
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