Simple oral hygiene measures could help lower the risk of transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from the mouth to the lungs, a study found.
The research, published in the Journal of Oral Medicine and Dental Research on April 20, revealed that COVID-19 patients with gum disease were 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit, 4.5 times more likely need a ventilator, and 8.8 times more likely to die than those without gum disease.
To conduct the study, researchers followed 568 patients with COVID-19.
The researchers said dental plaque accumulation and periodontal inflammation further intensify the chance of SARS-CoV-2 virus reaching the lungs, causing more severe cases of the infection.
“[Daily] oral hygiene and oral healthcare should be prioritized as such measures could be potentially lifesaving for COVID-19 patients,” the study read.
The authors noted that simple low-cost measures, such as use of mouthwashes, could “decrease the salivary viral load” and help prevent or mitigate the development of lung disease and severe COVID-19.
The research team is comprised of experts from the Salisbury District Hospital, United Kingdom; Mouth-Body Research Institute, United States; Mouth-Body Research Institute, South Africa; and The University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.