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Study links gum disease with increased COVID-19 mortality

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:40 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Gum disease causes more problems than rotting teeth and bad breath.

A study published Feb. 1 in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology shows people who have gum disease are nine times more likely to die from COVID-19. They’re 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU and 4.5 times more likely to end up on a ventilator.

Doctor Jason Kelbel, a general dentist with Marshfield Clinic, said there’s not enough data yet to link gum disease to an increase in COVID-19 mortality.

“We’re still studying about it. We do that know that the health of the mouth and the gums does affect the overall health of the body and it can be considered an underlying condition,” he said.

Kelbel said gum disease can lead to other health issues, which can exacerbate potential COVID-19 problems.

“There’s a lot of links between gum disease and diabetes, gum disease and cardiovascular disease,” he said.

Doctor Tony Martin, a general dentist with Martin Dental in Altoona, said gum disease can be hereditary. Bad diet and someone not taking care of their teeth can also lead to the disease.

“Because gum disease is a chronic gum inflammatory response, you can prevent getting it by exercising proper home care, which would include brushing the recommended two times per day, using floss, of course,” he said.

Martin also recommends using once daily, before bed. People should also limit the amount of sugar and acidic foods they eat.

“Often times the disease is actually exacerbated by poor oral hygiene or not removing the plaque properly,” he said.

Martin adds severe gum disease cases may require oral surgery to help manage them.

Kelbel said people who think they may have gum disease should see their dentist.

He said no matter how much someone brushes and flosses, certain dental equipment is needed to get all the bad bacteria.

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