Two dentists stressed how maintaining good oral hygiene during this pandemic can be a preventive measure against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The oral cavity is one of the entry points of COVID-19 to the body aside from the nose and eyes, Dr. Adeliza Valeza said.
Valeza noted that proper brushing, use of mouthwash, and flossing contribute to healthy teeth and gums.
“If and when the mouth is healthy, everything else follows. The patient can eat the right food to nourish [their] body, thereby strengthening [their] immune system. [Their] mouth will not be a [focus] of infection, viral load and bacterial load of the saliva and the oral cavity as a whole will be lessened. Viruses will not thrive in a clean environment,” the dentist said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Paolo Baroma stressed that the main route of COVID-19 transmission is through respiratory droplets from either coughing or sneezing.
“We are constantly reminded to wash our hands. Why are we not constantly reminded of the importance of washing our mouths when it is clearly where the virus comes from?” Baroma added.
Lessening the chance to visit dentists
If good oral hygiene is maintained, Valeza said it will also reduce the need for patients to visit the dentist, decreasing their chance of being subjected to aerosol-generating procedures in clinics.
Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can also occur during medical procedures that generate aerosols.
However, the use of aerosol suction devices may help prevent possible virus-laden air from clinics.
“Aside from reducing the spread of the virus, good oral hygiene lessens the chance of needing to visit the dentist unexpectedly. Traveling from your home to the dental office increases the risk of getting infected,” Baroma added.
“Work from home also means an increase in eating snacks. Anxiety and depression from current world events may also lead to stress eating. The more you use your mouth and teeth means you should also increase your effort in maintaining it,” he underscored.
Reducing severe COVID-19
A study 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 to need a ventilator, and 8.8 times more likely to die than those without gum disease.
The researchers said dental plaque accumulation and periodontal inflammation further intensify the chance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus reaching the lungs, causing more severe cases of infection.
In the study, the authors emphasized that simple low-cost measures, such as the use of mouthwashes, could “decrease the salivary viral load” and help prevent or mitigate the development of lung disease and severe COVID-19.