Can Gum Disease Worsen COVID-19? Emerging Theories on Periodontal Inflammation

September 18, 2020

Dr. Shervin Molayem, DDS, outlines his recent paper The Mouth-COVID Connection: Il-6 Levels in Periodontal Disease — Potential Role in COVID-19-Related Respiratory Complications.

Can gum disease worsen the severity of COVID-19? According to a recent paper published in the Journal of the California Dental Association, the answer may lie in an inflammatory marker known as Interleukin (IL) -6.

The lead author of the paper was Dr. Shervin Molayem.

Molayem is a periodontist who graduated from UCLA School of Dentistry. Shervin also completed a 3-year specialty program for periodontics, dental implants and reconstructive surgery at USC School of Dentistry.

He went on to become the founder of both the UCLA and USC Journals of Dental Research, and has conducted extensive research in the field of dental implants.

In this discussion with Contagion, Molayem outlines the possible connection between oral health, IL-6, and the severity of COVID-19 infections.

The study proposes that because of the inflammation involved in gum disease, poor oral hygiene could make one more likely to suffer complications from coronavirus infection.

Molayem also describes the parallels and divides he sees between dental surgery and the rest of infectious disease care.

In the second part of the discussion, Molayem explains how the theory can concretely be tested at the point of care with coronavirus patients.

The paper can be read of print publication here. It was written with Carla Cruvinel Pontes, DDS, MsC, PhD.