Dr. Peter Kics says good oral health is more important than ever
Today, as everyone strives to stay healthy during COVID-19, dental leader, Dr. Peter Kics, offers important, but perhaps unexpected, advice: Take care of the health of your mouth to protect the overall health of your body.
“The systems that keep our bodies working are part of one big circle; everything is connected,” explains Dr. Kics, founder of Westgate Dental Care in Arlington Heights, Illinois. “Oral health is a vital part of this amazing circle. Now more than ever, we need to keep our mouths free of infection and inflammation to give our bodies a fighting chance to battle other health issues.”
As researchers learn more about COVID-19, the connections between oral health and underlying health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, are becoming even more significant, says Dr. Kics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this month released a report showing that people of any age with conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
“When a patient has gum disease, or periodontitis, he or she has bacteria and inflammation in the mouth that are linked to many of these health conditions identified in the CDC report,” Dr. Kics explains. “For patients with diabetes, gum disease can be especially challenging. Diabetes makes it harder for patients to fight gum disease, and at the same time, gum disease makes it harder to keep blood sugar levels in check. It’s a vicious cycle. Good oral care can help break this cycle to improve health.”
Chris Reeve, who has both diabetes and high blood pressure, knows first-hand the importance of ongoing oral care. Just before the virus forced dental practices to close, Ms. Reeve had the first of several planned visits at Westgate Dental Care to take care of a range of dental and gum issues.
“I take extra precautions because of my diabetes, and I knew this oral care was important,” she says. “But when COVID hit, I had to put everything on hold.”
As soon as Westgate reopened, Reeve received assurances that the practice had taken extensive steps to protect patient and staff safety, and she returned for treatment. Today, she has completed the original work and is back to visiting every three months for exams and cleaning – the frequency Dr. Kics recommends for patients like Ms. Reeve with underlying health conditions. And Ms. Reeve says not only does she feel better, her diabetes is also under control.
“Dental checkups are not just about your teeth,” says Dr. Kics. “They are about looking for and treating infection, helping you maintain healthy gums free from inflammation so that your body has the resources it needs to fight chronic conditions and something as life-threatening as COVID. We have always encouraged patients to put oral care at the top of their priority list, and in the face of this virus, we believe oral health is more important than ever.”
General Oral Health Recommendations: Dr. Kics encourages patients to see a dentist if they experience pain or swelling in their mouth, or if anything inside the mouth is broken – a tooth, bridge or crown. For daily care at home, he advises the following regimen: brush, floss, use a water flosser, such as Waterpik®, and use an antiseptic rinse like Listerine® Total Care. “These simple steps take just a few minutes, but they can make a tremendous difference for your health, particularly as we face the challenges of COVID-19.”