New studies show gum disease may increase severity of COVID-19

New studies show gum disease may increase severity of COVID-19

Everybody on the planet knows about COVID19. Yet with each day, come new discoveries about this mysterious disease. For many, experiencing COVID19 is no more severe than catching a cold. But for others, they experience far worse outcomes such as respiratory failure and death. The risk for contracting a severe form of COVID19 is higher if you have certain medical conditions including cancer, kidney disease, obesity, type 1/2 diabetes, respiratory conditions, high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as being in an advanced age group. Now, recent new studies reveal that one other health condition may also increase your risk of experiencing severe COVID19 – untreated gum disease and poor oral health.

What is the link between untreated gum disease & COVID19?

German researchers have discovered that when COVID19 patients experienced an inflammatory response leading to respiratory failure, their levels of a pro-inflammatory cytokine called interleukin-6 (IL-6) were elevated. This is the same cytokine implicated in the phrase “cytokine storm” – a term coined to describe the out-of-control immune response occurring in patients with severe COVID19 and other serious auto-immune disorders. People with chronic, untreated gum disease (periodontal disease) experience higher levels of IL-6 as a result of the body’s constant inflammatory response to infected gum tissue. Since elevated levels of IL-6 indicate a strong potential for respiratory complications in COVID19 patients, the authors of the study concluded that treating gum disease and decreasing IL-6 levels may help prevent or reduce severe COVID19 complications.

Earlier British study correlates German findings on IL-6

In June 2020, an English study also found that high IL-6 levels, along with a high oral bacterial load in the mouth, were significant risk factors for severe COVID19 respiratory complications. Their advice: keep good oral hygiene, regular checkups and get gum disease treated!

Treating gum disease to reduce IL-6 levels in the body

The treatment for periodontal disease is quite simple. It is performed by a dentist in a basic dental procedure known as a scale and root planning – a deep dental clean right down to the roots. During this treatment, all oral bacteria are removed above and below the gum line – keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Once gum disease is being properly managed and treated, the body’s inflammatory response winds down along with lower levels of IL-6.

Resources:

Herold, T., Jurinovic, V., Arnreich, C., Lipworth, B. J., Hellmuth, J. C., von Bergwelt-Baildon, M., Klein, M., & Weinberger, T. (2020). Elevated levels of IL-6 and CRP predict the need for mechanical ventilation in COVID-19. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology146(1), 128-136.e4.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2020.05.008 Sampson, V., Kamona, N., & Sampson, A. (2020). Could there be a link between oral hygiene and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections? British Dental Journal228(12), 971–975.  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-020-1747-8 Sampson, V. (2020). Oral hygiene risk factor. British Dental Journal228(8), 569.  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-020-1545-3

CDBS 2022-2023 Dental Treatment Schedule

CDBS 2022-2023 Dental Treatment Schedule

The Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) was introduced back in 2014 to provide financial support for eligible children aged 2-17 years old to receive essential dental services. This benefit covers the cost of preventative and restorative dental treatments up to a maximum cost of $1,000 over a consecutive 2 years period.

70% of eligible children are missing out on $1000 dental treatment

According to the University of Queensland and Telethon Kids Institute research, 70% of children from low income families are either unaware or not using the CDBS. This has impacted on the oral health of Aussie children with approximately 26,000 kids hospitalised annually for mostly preventable dental conditions. With many frontline dentists being sidelined because of Covid-19 restrictions across Australia, 2020 & 2021 has seen a dramatic drop in preventative dental visits. This could result in delayed diagnosis, deferred treatment, and long-term dental disease problems for Australian children (and adults) in years to come. UQ researchers have recommended that timely eligibility reminders and redesigning eligibility letters to look more like vouchers are what are needed – to get the message out.

CDBS service rebates set to increase in 2022-2023

As of 1 January 2022, CDBS will allocate $1,013 for eligible children to spend on dental services over a consecutive 2 year period, while on 1 January 2023 that amount will increase to $1,026. The CDBS covers a wide range of preventative and restorative treatments not including cosmetic dental. They include:

  • Regular dental exams/check-ups
  • Clean, polish & scale
  • Digital x-rays
  • Fillings
  • Fissure sealants
  • Tooth extractions
  • Root canal treatment

Leeming Dental welcomes CDBS-eligible families

The easiest way to find out if your family is eligible for the CDBS is to call the Medicare General Enquiries line on 132 011 or to access your Medicare my.gov.au account. Another quick indication of eligibility is if you have a current Medicare card. If your children are eligible, simply contact Leeming Dental to schedule a dental appointment. We can examine, assess and recommend suitable treatment options to treat their dental issues. All CDBS treatment is bulk billed so you won’t have to make any out-of-pocket payments. For all CDBS-related enquiries, call our helpful reception on 08 9310 3367 for assistance.

Are AI dental checkups the next best thing to an actual dentist?

Are AI dental checkups the next best thing to an actual dentist?

Getting an instant artificial intelligence (AI) dental check-up on your phone has always been the stuff of science fiction. But now you can, thanks to an ingenious new free AI app called Pearlii – a self-help tool that can accurately detect potential tooth decay and cavities. Pearlii was developed by Australian oral health specialist Dr Kyle Turner. As a child, Dr Turner grew up in a remote area without local access to dental care. As a result, he ended up paying thousands in dental treatment costs as an adult. Poor access to dental care has always been a problem in many remote Australian communities. That’s why Dr. Turner decided to improve this long-standing health inequality by developing an AI powered phone app that could automatically check your teeth and gums.

How can AI apps accurately detect tooth decay and cavities?

AI powered apps utilise a machine learning algorithm that is specifically developed to detect any signs of tooth decay, cavities (caries) and gum issues. With the Pearlii AI app, you simply download it for free from Google Play or Apple App Store. Once you open the app, you answer a few questions about your oral health situation and then take 5 guided photos of your teeth. After the AI works its magic, you’ll be able to view an instant results page. This displays an overview that includes each of the 5 images with potential problem areas outlined by a colour coded line. The five colour codes are used to indicate the presence of the following oral conditions:

  1. Decay
  2. Stains
  3. Tartar
  4. White spots
  5. Red gums

* Screenshot images courtesy of Pearlii Pty Ltd

Can AI dental checkups take the place of a dentist?

No, AI dental check-ups can’t take the place of a dentist because there will always be a need for in-clinic dental care and treatment. However, AI apps such as Pearlii can help people with limited time, poor access to dental care or during a Covid lockdown. When the app detects an oral anomaly, it can advise and help incentivise the user to book an actual dental appointment for professional treatment. Remember that Pearlii is NOT a diagnostic tool. It is a screening and educational tool only. You’ll still need to go see your dentist if an oral problem is detected for a proper check-up and diagnosis.

What kind of phone do you need for Pearlii’s AI app?

You’ll need a smartphone with Android version 5.0 (or later) or iPhone 5S (or later). Where can I download Pearlii? Apple iOS users can click here to access the Apple Store. Android users can click here to access the Google Play Store. ‍

Why are healthy gums so important for a healthy heart

Why are healthy gums so important for a healthy heart

Having a healthy heart largely depends on your lifestyle and diet. If you eat a lot of unhealthy food, don’t exercise, smoke, drink too much alcohol and/or suffer from hypertension, your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is greatly increased. On the other hand, following a healthy diet (high in anti-oxidants) and exercising daily can reduce the risk factors for CVD. But how does oral health count as a risk factor?

The links between gum and heart disease

There is mounting clinical evidence that show gum disease (periodontitis) is strongly linked to a number of cardiovascular diseases, including:

  • heart disease (coronary artery disease)
  • heart attack (myocardial infarction)
  • cerebrovascular disease – affecting blood supply to the brain
  • stroke (cardioembolic and thrombotic)
  • peripheral artery (or vascular) disease
  • atrial fibrillation (heart arrhythmia)
  • heart failure

Research scientists have discovered that patients with chronic gum disease (periodontitis) have a higher risk for a number of medical conditions associated directly with CVD. These include:

  • endothelial dysfunction
  • increased risk of narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • inflammation

Why does gum disease affect cardiovascular health?

Gum disease or periodontitis affects cardiovascular health for a number of possible reasons, most of which involve the pathogenic bacteria (pathogens) associated with gum disease. These pathogens can migrate from the gums to other parts of the body via the body’s nervous system and blood stream. The presence of these pathogens, including the insidious Porphyromonas gingivalis, in your bloodstream can result in a larger build-up of calcium, fats and other materials on your arterial walls. This increase can fast track you towards atherosclerosis – and ultimately CVD. The same pathogens can also generate antibodies that directly affect your cardiovascular system, leading to the onset of CVD. Then there are the continual inflammation events and cytokine storms as a result of a chronic gum infection. These can have an adverse effect on your heart and general health as well.

What oral health practices can help prevent cardiovascular disease?

Maintaining good oral health is essential to lower your risk of heart-related health issues. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day. Use floss or interdental brushes to clean the spaces between your teeth. Last, but not least, visit your dentist twice a year for a check-up, so that any early signs of gum disease or periodontitis can be treated promptly.

The oral bacteria that destroy your brain’s nerve cells

The oral bacteria that destroy your brain’s nerve cells

Oral Bacteria

Oral Bacteria

The oral bacteria that destroy your brain’s nerve cells

According to a recently published study conducted by the University of Bergen, Norway, certain oral bacteria play a “decisive” role in the development of Alzheimer’s in an individual.

In a news statement released on June 3, 2019, lead researcher Piotr Mydel stated that his team had discovered clear DNA-based proof that gingivitis-causing bacteria can move independently from the oral cavity to brain tissue. The bacteria travel via the close network of blood vessels and nerve fibres that connect the two areas of the head.

Once the oral bacteria are in the brain, they excrete protein and enzyme by-products that can go on to destroy the brain’s nerve cells. When nerve cells of the brain die, the result can be memory loss – and potentially Alzheimer’s.
While there are multi-factor causes of Alzheimer’s, Mydel believes that the presence of these bacteria in the brain significantly heightens your risk of developing the disease and can speed up its progress.

Eliminate P.gingavalis from your body

oral pathogen test

With clinical evidence mounting, it’s inevitable that P.gingavalis will make it onto the high risk factors list for Alzheimer’s in the future. However, you wouldn’t want this dangerous pathogen to silently wreak havoc in your brain and other parts of your body – at anytime.

While the Norwegian researchers have focused on developing drugs that block the harmful by-products of P.gingavalis, it’s a far better strategy to prevent these bacteria from entering your brain in the first place. The best way to achieve this goal is to maintain a proper oral health care and hygiene routine along with regular dental checkups.

P.Gingavalis – the creepy crawler in the brain

The oral bacteria in question have been identified by the Norwegian research team to Porphyromonas gingivalis – or P.Gingavalis for short. This oral bacterium is one of the main culprits responsible for gum disease, and has been linked to a number of general health conditions, including diabetes, strokes, oral cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The Norwegian study backed up the findings of a similar UK study published in 2014. In this study, English researchers concluded that the same bacteria species and its by-products were responsible for a repeated immune response that caused the death of brain neurons, as well as nerve cells.

But how can you be sure? It’s easy. To identify and eliminate P.gingavalis & co from your body, all it takes is a simple saliva test right here at Leeming Dental. In fact, we are the ONLY providers of Oral DNA testing in West Australia.

Once we submit your sample, it is tested and an Oral DNA test lab report lists all pathogenic bacteria detected in your saliva. With this crucial information, we are able to customise a 100% effective antibiotic treatment that will eliminate the harmful bacteria present in your body.

Take your oral DNA test at Leeming Dental

For more information or to schedule a consultation, call our friendly, helpful reception at Leeming Dental on 08 9310 3367. In the meantime, brush and floss your teeth daily!

References:

Stephen S. Dominy, Casey Lynch, Florian Ermini, Malgorzata Benedyk, Agata Marczyk, Andrei Konradi, Mai Nguyen, Ursula Haditsch, Debasish Raha, Christina Griffin, Leslie J. Holsinger, Shirin Arastu-Kapur, Samer Kaba, Alexander Lee, Mark I. Ryder, Barbara Potempa, Piotr Mydel, Annelie Hellvard, Karina Adamowicz, Hatice Hasturk, Glenn D. Walker, Eric C. Reynolds, Richard L. M. Faull, Maurice A. Curtis, Mike Dragunow, Jan Potempa. Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer’s disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitorsScience Advances, 2019; 5 (1): eaau3333 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau3333