EPISODE #19 – COVID’S LINK TO ORAL HEALTH — Dr. VICTORIA’S RESEARCH ON THE ORAL MICROBIOME AND SECONDARY BACTERIAL INFECTIONS
- Published on: 10 August, 2020
- Last update: 10 August, 2020
THIS WEEK ON WHAT’S THE JUICE PODCAST…
If you’ve listened to What’s The Juice before, then I KNOW you’ve probably already thought about how you would answer the second of my opening questions, “What would you title the current chapter of your life?”
I was just having a conversation with a friend about this exact topic the other day and my answer to the question is “Learning How to Be Human”. I know I’m not alone when I say that life has thrown me some serious curveballs this year and I’ve been dedicating so much of my energy to just trying to keep up.
One thing I’ve been researching like crazy is oral hygiene. While I’ve always been diligent about brushing, flossing, tongue scraping, etc., I’m completely fascinated by what I’ve learned about the oral microbiome and its effect on our entire bodies.
Most of us are taught to brush 2-3 times a day and floss regularly, but what we aren’t told is the whole story on WHY these practices are so important. Taking care of our mouths is more than just protecting our smile… it about boosting our immunity, protecting against autoimmune conditions, and preventing infection.
I started this conversation a few episodes ago when I got all the juice on functional dentistry and the important link between our oral and gut microbiomes from Dr. B. In today’s episode, we’re exploring a new topic that’s been constantly on my mind these past few months: The link between oral health and COVID-19.
I hope you’re stocked up on floss and toothpaste, because you’re probably going to want to brush after this one!
LET’S GET JUICY
Dr. Victoria Sampson and I first connected through Instagram and I knew right away that we were going to get along! We’re totally on the same page when it comes to oral hygiene and the microbiome, and I am SO honored that she was down to be a guest on WTJ.
The Common Link Between COVID Risk Factors
Since Dr. Victoria has been furloughed during the COVID crisis, she’s dedicated her time to educating herself on the infection. Over the past few months, she’s connected the dots between the virus and common oral bacteria, leading her to create some compelling hypotheses about the role of bacterial superinfection in COVID complications.
One of the first things that really caught Dr. Victoria’s attention about COVID were the risk factors and what those conditions had in common.
Common risk factors for complications related to COVID are:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
Now, what do these conditions have in common?
The likelihood of a compromised oral microbiome.
Blood pressure medications are known to cause dry mouth. Obesity and diabetes are often linked to gum disease. There are disparities in oral health in urban communities, and gum disease poses an increased risk for heart disease.
Why This Matters!
When my parents were sick with COVID, you better believe that I was doing TONS of research on treatment options. One thing that kept coming up was the possibility of a secondary bacterial infection that poses an even greater risk to COVID patients. Because of this, I insisted my dad brush his teeth regularly and requested that my mom have her teeth brushed while she was on the ventilator.
As we learned in my chat with Dr. B, the oral microbiome directly impacts our gut health. But did you know it also affects our lungs? If we have dysbiosis in our mouth, we are at risk of spreading that harmful bacteria to our lungs simply by breathing. This means that poor oral health could absolutely cause bacterial overgrowth in the lungs, especially if we’ve contracted a virus that is distracting our immune system.
Much like those who contract HIV often die from a secondary infection like tuberculosis, many COVID patients are dying from pneumonia. And what is pneumonia caused by? Bacteria overgrowth.
Research has shown that treating COVID with an antiviral AND an antibiotic is more effective than treating with just an antiviral alone. Not only that, people who have severe cases of COVID have a higher neutrophil count and lower lymphocyte count than those with mild cases. And what is a neutrophil count associated with? A bacterial infection.
Dr. Victoria’s Research (and Recs)!
Since COVID is so new and there hasn’t been time to conduct thorough tests, Dr. Victoria is breaking new ground in a research study she’s conducting with three hospitals in the UK. Her research will be the first and biggest trial on oral health and COVID, and may provide new information that will change the way we prevent and treat respiratory viruses.
If you’re anything like me, I know you’re on the edge of your seat waiting to hear more about her findings, so you’re definitely going to want to give her a follow on Instagram (see her handle below)!
In the meantime, it’s SO important that we all do everything we can to care for our mouths. Fortunately, proper oral care is inexpensive, relatively easy, and doesn’t take too much time.
Daily Practices for Oral Health:
- Brush 2-3 times a day with a remineralizing toothpaste (do NOT rinse after!)
- Floss once a day
- Gargle with saltwater
And be sure to see your dentist for a cleaning every six months!
I hope you enjoyed this episode and are showing your mouth the love it deserves. As always, stay juicy!
FIND DR. VICTORIA ONLINE
Dr. Victoria on Instagram: www.instagram.com/drvictoriasampson
*If you live in the UK, DM her for an appointment!
Send Dr. Victoria an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent Publication: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-020-1545-3