Gum disease makes COVID-19 worse, California dentist says

A California dentist said he believes gum disease patients with high levels of inflammation are more likely to suffer severe complications if infected with COVID-19, according to ABC's KGO-TV.

Shervin Molayem, DDS, said inflammation from gum disease may increase risk of acute COVID-19 symptoms. He said his research found inflammatory marker interleukin 6 to be a main contributor.

When plaque builds in the mouth and gums, IL-6 and the other inflammatory proteins get released locally, Dr. Molayem said. The IL-6 then travels to the lining of the lungs and other organs.

Dr. Molayem said a German study connecting high levels of IL-6 in critically-ill COVID-19 patients prompted his own research. Other studies have found patients with other respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, improve after a teeth cleaning, Dr. Molayem said.

"We urge hospitals and medical doctors to set up dental protocols to check their gums," Dr. Molayem told KGO-TV.

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