Can good oral hygiene help during a pandemic?
Can good oral hygiene help during a pandemic? A recent study published in the British Dental Journal shows that a healthy mouth may prevent severe cases of COVID-19.
In the fight against the spread of COVID-19, optimising your own health — such as staying on top of your dental care — may do more than you think.
What is this study about?
British researchers explored the severity of COVID-19 complications in relation to something called “bacterial load”. “Bacterial load” is a way of measuring the number of bacteria present in an environment.
To explore this link, researchers looked at COVID-19 complications among patients who also had poor oral health. Since many dental problems are caused by bad bacteria in the mouth, researchers noted that patients with poor oral health could be at higher risk as there will be an overgrowth of ‘bad bacteria’ around the mouth.
From their findings, they recommended: “oral hygiene be maintained, if not improved, during a SARS-CoV-2 infection in order to reduce the bacterial load in the mouth and the potential risk of bacterial superinfection.”
Bacteria and COVID-19 severity
While COVID-19 is caused by a virus (a coronavirus), serious bacterial complications arising from the disease have been reported. These complications include pneumonia, sepsis, and respiratory distress syndrome. For this reason, researchers believe there is a link between high bacterial load and severe COVID-19 complications.
How does mouth bacteria affect your health?
Your mouth is the first point of entry for viruses that are airborne or droplets. Not only that, but your mouth is also a prime place for bad bacterias to thrive and cause havoc on your health.
The more bad bacteria there is in your mouth, the more energy your immune system needs to exert to continually fight off this infection. That means when other nasties try to infect your body (eg. COVID-19), your immune system is already preoccupied and less able to defend against new infections. Keeping the bacterial load low in your mouth by having excellent dental health means that your immune system is in tip-top shape in the event that airborne viruses try to attack.
Maintain, if not improve, your oral hygiene
While research is still progressing, studies like this one show that dental health as not only for good teeth, but for your overall health and wellbeing too. As we wait for a vaccine, taking small preventative steps — like looking after your teeth — can play a big role in reducing your risk factors during these pandemic times.
So if you’ve been putting off a dental appointment, it’s worth chatting with your dentist to put together a safe treatment plan. Contact our Whitehorse Dental team by phone or email.
We are referencing “Could there be a link between oral hygiene and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections?” published in the British Dental Journal.
You can read another in-depth summary of the study here: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200630/Oral-hygiene-and-severity-of-COVID-19-e28093-the-connection.aspx