Association between periodontitis and severity of COVID‐19 infection
In this study – recently published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology – 568 patients with COVID-19 were involved, 40 of which experienced COVID-19 related complications (ICU admission, assisted ventilator requirement or death). Strikingly, 33 of those patients also had periodontitis. When you convert those figures into a risk estimation, it means that COVID-19 patients are over 3.5 times more likely to have severe complications when they suffer from periodontal disease, even when you adjust that for common risk factors such as age, smoking behavior and conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The clinical implications of these findings are very clear and affect different levels:
• To health professionals, the knowledge of this clear and significant association between periodontitis and COVID-19 complications, should prompt the search for appropriate diagnosis of periodontal health in all patients being diagnosed of SARS-cov2 infection, and in case of being diagnosed of untreated periodontitis, to seek for appropriate therapy. This can only work if there are established links and paths between physicians and dentists working in primary care.
• To health planners, the knowledge of this clear and significant association between periodontitis and COVID-19 complications, should prompt them to consider seriously that oral and periodontal health is an integral part of general health. This simple statement does not apply in most of the European countries where diagnosis and treatment of periodontal diseases are not part of the regular services provided by the national health care, mainly in what relates to the treatment of severe periodontitis.
• To patients, since the knowledge of this demonstrated association is one more evidence of the relationship between periodontitis and risk of many systemic diseases, what should prompt patients to be aware of their oral and periodontal health and not only implement regular oral hygiene practices, but also seek the advice and care of the oral practitioner to assure their oral and periodontal health
Prof. Mariano Sanz
Faculty of Odontology, University Complutense of Madrid, Spain