Could Poor Oral Hygiene Increase the Risk of COVID-19 Infection?
Updated: Nov 20, 2020
It’s been reported that various factors can make us more susceptible to COVID-19 – namely our age, weight, and whether or not we have have underlying health conditions, in particular respiratory issues.
However, recent studies have suggested that even poor oral hygiene could be a factor in contracting COVID-19.
When people practice good oral hygiene habits, they ultimately help to prevent airway infections. Those with poor oral hygiene or gum disease are at increased risk of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, both of which are vulnerable groups for COVID-19.
One study found that poor oral hygiene increased the duration of viral shedding of CoCOVIDvid-19 from approximately 20 to 50 days, meaning that the virus was detectable for longer in the saliva despite the fact that symptoms may had been resolved.
The mouth can tell us a lot about our health. When there is poor health systemically in the body, signs can appear in the mouth, and vice versa. When we take certain medications or undergo hormonal changes, our mouth reflects this. Furthermore, many nutritional deficiencies and gastrointestinal diseases are first diagnosed in the mouth.
Bacteria and COVID-19
Bacteria play a huge role in COVID-19, yet this hasn’t been covered as much because we don’t tend to pair a viral infection with bacteria. When you have a viral infection, you become immunocompromised, making you very vulnerable to bacteria. So if your mouth is unhealthy the moment you become ill, you are at a higher risk of contracting other infections.
For example, we know that gum disease causes inflammation and alters the bacteria in the mouth. Fortunately, gum disease and dental decay are entirely preventable simply by following proper oral hygiene.
The key to staying safe during the pandemic is to make sure that your overall oral hygiene is not being ignored. This means taking the extra time to focus on at-home care by brushing twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste and flossing or using interdental brushes to reduce the bacterial overload as much as possible Check out my tips on how to properly look after your teeth and gums at home.
1. Sampson V, Kamona N, Sampson A. Could there be a link between oral hygiene and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections? Brit Dent J. 2020; 228: 971–975.