The Link Between Gum Disease and Viral Infections

gum disease and COVID-19 risks Friendswood

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased public awareness of the danger of viruses and the importance of a strong immune system.

Our Immune System Protects Against Serious Illness

The variation in the severity of COVID-19 illness is due, in part, to the strength of natural biological defenses.

Of course, you may be wondering why we’re reviewing this in a dental blog. Does it have anything to do with dental health?

Actually, it does. Scientists have found a link between oral bacteria and viral infections.

Gum Disease is Caused by Bacteria

The oral bacteria in question is Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis for short). The “gingivalis” in its name gives you a clue to what type of bacteria it is. As you may have figured out, P. gingivalis is the bacteria that causes gingivitis and the more advanced form of gum disease called periodontitis.

Your Mouth Produces Natural Viral Protection

Interferon lambdas are a family of proteins generated by cells in the mouth. These proteins shield us from all varieties of bacterial and viral infections in addition to the coronavirus. The danger of P. gingivalis is that it makes Interferon lambdas less effective at protecting us.

This is how one of the researchers explained it:

“Our studies identified certain pathogenic bacterial species, P. gingivalis, which cause periodontal disease, can completely suppress interferon production and severely enhance susceptibility to viral infection. These resident oral plaque bacteria play a key role in regulating antiviral responses.” Juhi Bagaitkar, assistant professor, University of Louisville Department of Oral Immunology and Infectious Disease. 

Oral Health and Physical Health Go Hand in Hand

As if you needed one more reason to prevent gum disease! Not only does gum disease put you tooth loss, it makes you more susceptible to the risks of viruses. To recap: if you prevent gum disease, you protect your mouth from P. gingivalis. This lets you benefit from Interferon lambdas and the virus protection they provide.

Let’s explore basic oral hygiene habits that can prevent periodontitis and keep your smile healthy:

  • Brush at least twice daily using proper brushing techniques
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily using the correct flossing protocol
  • Get a professional dental cleaning twice a year
  • Schedule twice-yearly dental exams
  • Take care of dental problems in their early stages so they don’t progress

Has it been a while since you’ve had a dental exam and cleaning? Call today to schedule a visit. We are located in Friendswood and serve the Houston area. Our friendly team of dental professionals is here for your family.

 

Contact Montz and Maher Dental Group:

Locations (Tap to open in Google Maps):

2443 S Galveston Ave
Pearland, Texas 77581

Pearland Phone: 832-895-5120

1769 S. Friendswood Dr. Ste 107
Friendswood, TX 77546
Friendswood Phone: 281-482-1275

 

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