It is widely believed that COVID-19 infects the upper respiratory tract via the airways, but a new study suggests the novel coronavirus could actually be entering through the gums, according to an article published Tuesday in the Journal of Oral Medicine and Dental Research.
The virus researchers state COVID-19 settles in the saliva, enters the bloodstream via openings in the gums, and then travels to the heart and lungs.
"If confirmed, this hypothetical model may provide a rationale for understanding why some individuals develop COVID-19 lung disease and others do not. It would also fundamentally change the way COVID-19 is managed, providing a new line of exploration into treatments targeted at the source of the viral reservoir, the mouth."
"Our radiologist and lead author [Dr. Graham Lloyd-Jones] found no evidence of the virus in the airway. He found no inflammation in the airway, the trachea, like you would see with other respiratory viruses like influenza," Dr. Shervin Molayem, a co-author and director of the Mouth-Body Institute in Los Angeles, told the Washington Examiner.
He also said the ACE receptors that COVID-19 connects to are heavily present in saliva.
Another study suggests "periodontitis," a result of periodontal pockets which form from gum disease, "was associated with higher risk of ICU admission, need for assisted ventilation and death of COVID‐19 patients, and with increased blood levels of biomarkers linked to worse disease outcomes."
The study and experts suggest better oral health resulted and better outcomes after contracting COVID-19. Preventive measures such as mouthwash may even kill the virus.
"All we need to do is focus on using certain mouthwashes that kill COVID in the mouth... "We want to get it early. We have a list of mouthwashes that we recommend that kill 99% of the virus in the mouth," Molayem said.
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