Good dental hygiene may well be a weapon against severe COVID-19: A new study shows that taking care of your teeth and gums may lower your risk of serious infection, especially if you have heart disease.
Previous research has found an association between poor oral hygiene and increased inflammation and heart disease, and COVID-19 severity has also been linked to an inflammatory response, the study authors noted.
"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," said study lead author Dr. Ahmed Mustafa Basuoni, a cardiology consultant at Cairo University in Egypt.
To assess the connection between oral health and COVID-19 severity, the researchers looked at 86 Egyptian heart disease patients with a confirmed positive COVID-19 PCR test.
Information was collected through questionnaires and medical records, including levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which reveal whether there is inflammation in the body.
The authors found that poor oral health was associated with more severe COVID-19 and longer recovery from the disease. Their study will be presented at a joint meeting of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the Egyptian Society of Cardiology and the ACC Egypt Chapter on Oct. 14-15.
The findings, which are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal, suggest that poor oral health may be an additional risk factor for heart disease patients who contract COVID-19.
"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 [heart disease], and using [antimicrobial] mouthwashes [could help in] preventing or decreasing the severity of COVID-19 disease," Basuoni said in an ACC news release.
"Oral health should be a part of routine history taking and examination in cardiac patients," Basuoni said. "Lifestyle measures should be instructed to all cardiac patients regarding good oral hygiene with regular dental visits. We need to give more space in research for these risk factors which can be easily modified."