Dental Health & COVID-19: Is there a link?

Research already figured that dental health is a significant part of health and comprehensive health care and welfare.  What is added and continuously supplemented is the link between dental health and COVID-19.

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019. Some reports even detail that the virus already made rounds in China and its neighboring countries but was initially contained. Hence, the name of the virus. Not as deadly as some viruses which caused panic before 2020, but it definitely beat Flash in its spread.

Unlike today, where most parts of the world, including businesses, are recovering and recuperating with vaccines and immunity, the world was in a trance before then. Borders were closed, small businesses closed, and international flights canceled. While transmission from airborne respiratory particles from virus-infected persons isn’t too alien, already, the Netflix shows about pandemics and apocalypse didn’t help. 

The dental floss was tossed

On 16 March 2020, the American Dental Association (ADA), which happens to be the federal state’s dental association, advised that elective dental treatments and examinations be postponed until April 6, 2020, and offer emergency-only oral services to make way for COVID-19 patients or not add to collateral damage. COVID-19 related deaths were rising around the globe, and whether COVID-19 or other comorbidities proximately caused it remains unanswered because of zero vacancies in hospitals.

Dental patients were kept from burdening emergency rooms. The ADA recommendation was updated on April 1, 2020, when it recommended offices maintain closed doors except for urgent and emergency procedures up to April 30 as the earliest. Dental services are supposed to encompass sorts of dental treatment, from regular checkups down to extractions and surgeries, but as a consequence, dental care clinics went out of business. 

Just a week after the ADA’s recommendation, an ADA Health Policy Institute survey presented that more than half and a quarter percent (76%) of dental office respondents were closed, but 19% were entirely shut down, and 5% were open but still a drawback because of higher drop-in patients.

Bonding to Fill the Gaps

CDC and other state-based news articles reported the surprising link between dental health and COVID-19.

It’s not just coincidental that because of COVID-19, businesses, and practices, including dental practice, have been thwarted. Every somatic complication has underlying medical conditions, and COVID-19 increased risk factors are often linked to chronic or terminal diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. But recently, research turned up regarding the connection between dental health and COVID-19.

There’s a recent finding that people infected with gum disease who later on catch the coronavirus are subject to poor health outcomes with a sizable chance of admission to the ICU

Periodontal disease is experienced by approximately 50% of Americans in their 30s and above. Increasing age would keep making matters worse. 

How may dental health burn a bridge toward COVID-19 infections?

Predominantly, dental health is a front-line safeguard to aid the body in shielding itself from virus infections, including coronavirus, organ inflammations, and other diseases transmitted through the mouth. It’s not only about coming in contact with people, not practicing social distancing, or breathing the same air. 

The thing is, oral health is part and parcel of holistic health and well-being. The study of the importance of oral health is relatively new. The first and only report on Oral Health was only published in 2000. Dental experts and practitioners are still cementing the basis of why oral health is as important as other health areas or at least important enough without the need to establish a hierarchy.

The importance is to be taken seriously, especially since COVID-19 isn’t completely gone.

Silver lining? While gum diseases are largely common as we use our mouths every day for eating, communicating, and smiling, it’s also largely preventable.

Research shows that dental caries is the most common childhood disease that continues to reach adulthood in the long run.

National data has shown a steady trend for three years—2011-2014— pertaining to the prevalence of untreated dental caries, nearly 33%. Moreover, periodontitis was almost common in almost half of the adult population in America, around 42%.

Imagine having these undiagnosed and untreated oral diseases and getting COVID-19. Double Jeopardy! Why prioritize avoiding risk factors and the complication brought by one when there’s a connection with the order, and you can treat both infections…both oral and COVID-19 infections.

Practices and Routine to Consider as part of treatment

God forbid you experience periodontal disease or COVID-19. COVID-19 could be transmitted from about anywhere, and it’s hard to treat both oral problems and airborne viruses simultaneously, so let’s focus on improving oral health amid COVID-19 as a start. Here are some tips:

Change your toothbrush as much as you change your towel. This applies to traditional toothbrushes that should be changed after 1-2 months. Whether or not placed in a covered container, air toxins and other foreign objects can interact with your toothbrush. It already has to deal with your mouth’s business. You can switch to electric toothbrushes, which sync to an app you can download on your mobile phone. Hey, it’s extra costs but ultra-benefits, too. Dental apps provide customized feedback, better oral habits developments, and digitalized advice from an A.I dentist or just preferably more convenient means to reach your human dentist who’s currently on the other side of the planet. The premium package includes how long you should brush, how much brushing covers the teeth and gums, as well as how intense or deliberate you should brush. Free tip: 2 minutes, short, gentle strokes, and maintain the head at a 45-degree angle pointing at the gums. Ask your doctors about certain dental plans to get half or quarter off the original price. Inquire about membership discounts and incentive-system on smart brushes.

Incorporate gum health in the daily. You don’t just improve gum health if you already have gum disease, right? It might be too late for some. Schedule regular cleanings, change your toothbrush, use a water flosser, and monitor your food intake and bad habits that involve using the mouth. More often than not, it’s the little things that escalate. If you’re doing healthful practices, then no need to worry about gingivitis that develops into periodontal disease, which might further lead to tooth extraction or loss and domino effect its way to a wide-ranging set of other poor health outcomes. Limit alcohol or substance abuse, smoking, and again, other bad habits that deal with the mouth.

Consult an expert for dental care. Especially that it has been years of online business and consultations, tap into virtual dental care. Your hard-working and competent dental professionals are keeping health care at the reach of your fingers, with just a click of a button. You just need to participate. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the dentistry community made telephone and video consultations available. This is a promising start-up before committing to in-person care. There’s also less anxiety to sit in the dental chair and watch the dentist prepare dental equipment…just advice and guidance, first. An academic study proves that dental care has been classified among the lot with most regularly unnecessary emergency room visits. 

If you’re interested in dentists serving Chandler, AZ, and surrounding areas, Kyrene Family Dentistry has been long in the practice of giving valuable dental care. Meet your Chandler dentist today!