Simple oral hygiene measures could help reduce the risk of transmission of the new coronavirus from the mouth to the lungs, and help prevent serious cases of Covid-19, according to a study.
The research, published in the Journal of Oral Medicine and Dental Research, shows that there is emerging evidence that the specific ingredients of some cheap and widely available mouthwashes products are highly effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV virus -2, which causes COVID-19.
The researchers noted that the coronavirus could pass into people’s lungs from saliva with the virus moving directly from the mouth to the bloodstream – especially if individuals have gum disease.
Evidence shows that lung blood vessels, rather than airways, are initially affected in COVID-19 lung disease with high concentrations of the virus in saliva and periodontitis associated with an increased risk of death.
The researchers propose that the build-up of dental plaque and periodontal inflammation intensifies the likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 virus reaching the lungs and causing more serious cases of infection. Experts say this discovery could make effective oral health care a life-saving operation – recommending that the public take simple, yet effective, daily steps to maintain oral hygiene and reduce factors that contribute to disease gum, as accumulating plaque.
Initial observations of lung CT scans from patients with COVID-19 lung disease led to collaboration between medical and dental researchers on the possible route of entry into the bloodstream.
“This model may help us understand why some individuals develop COVID-19 lung disease and others do not,” said study co-author Iain Chapple, Professor at the University of Birmingham in the UK.
“It could also change the way we manage the virus – exploring cheap or even free oral targeted treatments and ultimately saving lives,” said Chapple.
The researchers noted that gum disease causes the gums to leak, allowing microorganisms to enter the blood.
Simple measures – such as careful brushing of teeth and interdental brushing to reduce plaque accumulation, along with specific mouthwash, or even rinsing salt water to reduce gingival inflammation – could help reduce viral concentration in saliva.
This can also help to alleviate the development of lung disease and reduce the risk of decline for severe COVID-19.