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COVID-19 could get into people’s lungs from saliva, with the virus going straight from the mouth into the bloodstream – especially if people have gum disease, according to new research.

There is evidence that COVID-19 lung disease affects blood vessels in the lungs first and not the airways, with high virus concentrations in saliva and periodontal disease being associated with an increased risk of death.

The researchers suggest that plaque buildup and periodontal inflammation further increase the likelihood of the SARS-CoV-2 virus reaching the lungs and causing more severe cases of the infection.

Experts say this discovery could turn effective oral health care into a potentially life-saving venture. She recommends the public take simple but effective daily steps to maintain oral hygiene and reduce factors that contribute to gum disease, such as: B. the formation of plaque.

An international team of researchers from Great Britain, South Africa and the USA published their results today in the Journal of Oral Medicine and Dental Research. They discover new findings that certain ingredients of some cheap and widely used mouthwash products are highly effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Simple oral hygiene practices, including using these specific mouthwash products, could help lower the risk of mouth-to-lungs transmission of the virus in patients with COVID-19 and prevent severe cases of the infection.

First observations of lung CT scans of patients with COVID-19 lung disease by radiologist Dr. Graham Lloyd-Jones led to a collaboration between medical and dental researchers on the possible route of entry into the bloodstream.

Co-author Iain Chapple, Professor of Periodontics at the University of Birmingham, commented, “This model can help us understand why some people develop COVID-19 lung disease and others don’t. It could also change the way how how to deal with the virus – exploring cheap or even free treatments that target the mouth and ultimately save lives.

“Gum disease leaks the gums, which allows microorganisms to enter the blood. Simple measures such as careful brushing and interdental brushing to reduce plaque build-up and specific mouthwashes or even salt water rinsing to reduce gum inflammation can help reduce it.” the concentration of the virus in saliva and help to moderate the development of lung diseases and reduce the risk of worsening to severe COVID-19. “

The research team consisted of experts from Salisbury District Hospital, UK; the University of Birmingham, UK; and the Mouth-Body Research Institute, Los Angeles, California and Cape Town, South Africa.

Their new model is based on the mouth, which provides a breeding ground for the virus to thrive. Any violation of the oral immune system makes it easier for the virus to enter the bloodstream. As the virus moves out of the blood vessels in the gums, it passes through the cervical and thoracic veins and reaches the heart before being pumped into pulmonary arteries and small vessels in the base and periphery of the lungs.

“Studies are urgently needed to further investigate this new model. In the meantime, daily oral hygiene and plaque control will not only improve oral health and well-being, but could also be lifesaving in the context of the pandemic,” added Professor Chapple.

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More information:
Graham Lloyd-Jones et al. The COVID-19 Route: A Proposed Oral-Vascular-Pulmonary Route of SARS-CoV-2 Infection and the Importance of Oral Health Measures. The Journal of Oral Medicine & Dental Research (2021).

Provided by the University of Birmingham

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