Oral health may play a big role in COVID-19 infection and recovery

A new study reveals that the state of one's oral health may play an important role in COVID-19 severity, particularly among patients who already have cardiovascular health problems. The findings were recently announced by the American College of Cardiology, which notes that oral health — and lack thereof — has already been linked to other health conditions.

The study involved 86 adults in Egypt who had tested positive for COVID-19; all of them had been diagnosed with heart disease. The researchers assessed things like the severity of their COVID-19 symptoms and their oral hygiene status, ultimately finding a link between oral health and the disease's severity.

Beyond that, the data showed that patients who had poor oral health also took longer to recover from COVID-19, an issue that was worse in heart patients. That findings indicate that one's oral health may be a risk factor for more severe COVID-19 outcomes, though fortunately, it is one that can be modified by properly caring for one's teeth and mouth.

The study's lead author Ahmed Mustafa Basuoni, MD, explained:

Oral tissues could act as a reservoir for SARS-CoV-2, developing a high viral load in the oral cavity. Therefore, we recommended maintenance of oral health and improving oral hygiene measures, especially during COVID-19 infection. Simple measures like practicing proper oral hygiene, raising awareness of oral health importance either in relation to COVID-19 infection or systemic diseases by using media and community medicine, regular dental visits, especially in patients with CVD, and using [antimicrobial] mouthwashes [could help in] preventing or decreasing the severity of COVID-19 disease.

Past research has linked oral health to different potential health benefits and consequences; for example, certain kinds of mouthwash have been found to harm bacteria that may lead to higher blood pressure. As well, poor oral health has also been linked to increased inflammation and risk of developing heart conditions.