The coronavirus infection has various risk factors including age, underlying health conditions such as heart disease. However, recently scientists have figured out another risk factor of the novel infection. According to the researchers, gum disease has a link to fatal coronavirus infection.
Previously, researchers found that gum disease plays a role in an increased risk of heart and lung diseases. This is not surprising that both of these diseases also have a link to the severe infection of Covid-19.
A team of researchers from Brazil and California wrote a review of previous studies. The researchers found that people with gum disease have a high level of interleukin-6 (IL-6). This is an inflammatory protein found in the body which plays a role in the immune response. The high levels of IL-6 are linked with a fatal coronavirus infection.
This level of inflammatory protein can become lower by the treatment of the infection of the gums. Hence, a lower level of IL-6 can reduce the chances of a person requiring a ventilator due to Covid-19.
The review paper will get published shortly in the Journal of the California Dental Association. The researchers studied the previous research done on gum disease, coronavirus infection, and the immune protein IL-6.
Dr. Shervin Molayem is a dental surgeon in California. According to Dr. Molayem, many people with a higher level of protein IL-6 also have gum disease. This disease occurs due to various bacteria that live in the gums. The body tries to kill these foreign organisms through the production of immune proteins. This immune response increases the level of IL-6 in the body.
Some people have a high level of IL-6 based on their genetic makeup. Such people also have a higher risk of fatal coronavirus infection. A high level of IL-6 protein causes gum disease in humans with other diseases. It also has a link with other conditions including the destruction of bone structure and tissues.
IL-6 also damages the blood vessels. The cells which make up the blood vessels lose their elasticity. Hence, they do not dilate normally which increases the pressure on the heart. This in turn causes high blood pressure with heart disease. Cardiologists also mention that gum disease can have a link to heart disease.
IL-6 comes from a category of immune cells known as cytokines. Cytokines are responsible for an excessive inflammatory response called the cytokine storm. This condition usually leads the patients to develop a fatal coronavirus infection.
These cells activate other immune cells as well. This immune response causes an inflammatory response which damages the patient’s own body. The inflammation reaches the lungs and gums and causes the disease.
According to Dr. Molayem, the IL-6 protein reaches the gums to kills the bacteria present on the gums. This protein can reach the lungs through the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the lungs as well. This causes a link between gum disease and chronic lung disease.
Studies show that patients can reduce the levels of IL-6 in the body. This requires a thorough cleaning of the gums and the teeth and frequent visits to the dentist. Maintaining proper hygiene of the gums can lead to a lower level of IL-6 in the body. This also leads to lesser inflammation which reduces the risk of fatal coronavirus infection.