Bad oral hygiene could put people at risk of COVID-19 | KOB 4

Bad oral hygiene could put people at risk of COVID-19

Casey Torres
Created: July 30, 2020 02:25 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- A practicing oral surgeon in California worked on a study to show the link between bad oral hygiene and COVID-19. His peer-reviewed research will be published by the Journal of the California Dental Association.

"We've always known there's a connection between the gums in our mouth and our body in terms of heart attacks, and strokes and diabetes," said Dr. Shervin Molayem, DDS.

Dr. Molayem explained as much as 100 million bacteria can live on one dirty tooth. He said it takes only one minute for bacteria in the mouth to reach the foot, swimming around our bloodstream through all the organs.

Some of that bacteria is good, but some may be bad. When people get too much bacteria in their blood system, Dr. Molayem said their body goes into defense mode by releasing a protein known as IL6. It's one way a body tries to fight off infection, but it could also cause some complications besides inflammation.

"IL6 also destroys tissue. It destroys some of the lining in our blood vessels. It can cause a decrease in oxygen, gas exchange in your lungs. It messes with our linings in our lungs," Dr. Molayem said.

Dr. Molayem said a German study, which prompted his research, found high levels of IL6 can increase the likelihood of someone with COVID-19 to need a respirator.

"This is huge because people die with a respiratory issue, disease basically," he said.

He said that's why it's important to follow good oral hygiene. It can help prevent bacteria in your gums from entering a person's blood stream and triggering inflammation.

Dr. Molayem said to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, floss twice a day and do mouth wash rinses. He highly recommends scheduling an appointment for a deep cleaning.

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