Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Severity of COVID-19 and the Link to Periodontitis

 Severity of COVID-19 and the Link to Periodontitis

The Journal of Clinical Periodontology published a study on February 1, 2021 that examines the association of COVID-19 and periodontitis. Researchers began the clinical study on the basis that the coronavirus causes an inflammatory response in the body and note that systemic inflammation is a main factor of periodontitis.

Setting Up the Study

The study involved a total of 568 patients, and a total of 258 had periodontitis. Researchers aimed to determine if there was a link between coronavirus severity and a person’s dental hygiene.

Interestingly, out of the 258 participants that had periodontitis, 33 had complications, while just 7 out of 310 without periodontitis experienced complications.

Diving Deep into the Numbers

Complications between COVID-19 sufferers and periodontal health were charted and showed impressive results. The study broke down the patients into two main groups based on their periodontal condition stages:

1.      Stage 0 – 1

2.      Stage 2 - 4

Group two includes those that have more severe periodontal conditions.

Stage 0 – 1 Results

Out of 303 controls, a total of 7 people in this group had complications from the coronavirus. Deaths were just 1, while all seven individuals were admitted to the ICU. Finally, only three of the individuals in this group needed the assistance of a ventilator to help them breathe.

Statistically, the figures for this group, out of a total of 40 complications between both groups, are:

·         17.5% of cases had complications

·         7.1% resulted in death

·         19.4% resulted in ICU admission

·         15.8% required ventilation

Note: When all stages are combined, there were a total of 528 controls.

Stage 2 – 4 Results

The patients that were placed in the second group included a total of 225 people, or just 42.8% of all patients with periodontal disease. The data points directly to higher levels of coronavirus complications for people with more severe periodontal issues, including the following data:

·         33 people in the group, or 82.5% of all case complications, involved people in these stages

·         13 people, or 92.9% of all deaths, were in this group

·         29 people in the group, or over 80% of all cases, resulted in ICU admission

·         17 patients, or 85% of all those put on ventilators, were in these more advanced stages of periodontal disease

It seems, based on the study and the data presented, that people that have moderate to severe periodontitis had significantly higher risks of complications than those with no or mild forms of periodontal disease.

Discussions and Theories on Why Periodontal Health May Impact COVID-19 Complications

While the study does show that there’s a correlation between periodontal health and coronavirus severity, the definite cause remains a topic of debate. There are a lot of theories linking the two together, but it’s vital to understand that patients all had their blood concentration levels analyzed, too.

Studies on the fatal outcomes found the following concentrations to be higher:

C-reactive Protein

Abbreviated as CRP, this is a measurement that’s found in the blood that rises when there’s inflammation present in the body. The levels can also rise when infection occurs. Studies also find that CRP levels are higher in individuals that have chronic periodontitis.

It begs the question that if CRP is found to be much higher in fatal cases, can the higher levels of CRP caused by oral health issues contribute to death?

D-dimer

D-dimer is a small piece of protein, called a fragment, that is caused by a blood clot dissolving. The body will clot and dissolve clots normally in the healing process, but with some disorders, the body can no longer dissolve clots.

Disorders that result in higher D-dimer levels often result in coughing, trouble breathing and chest pain, such as a pulmonary embolism.

It was found that more than 25% of patients that had the coronavirus had elevated levels of D-dimer as long as four months after their initial diagnosis. Periodontitis is known to impact a person’s hemostatic system, causing these levels to possibly rise.

White Blood Cell Count

White blood cells, often abbreviated as WBC, are higher in individuals that suffer from chronic periodontitis, according to numerous studies, including a prominent study in 2014. The reasoning for the higher blood cell count is the presence of severe gum inflammation, which, as a result, causes WBC levels to rise.

WBC levels in the study linking oral health with coronavirus were significantly higher than those that had mild forms of periodontal disease.

There were also lower levels of lymphocytes. Patients that did require ventilators experienced elevated levels of both CRP and D-dimer.

These markers may indicate a key reason why people that have severe periodontal disease also have complications with COVID-19. More research is needed to provide a clearer picture of how oral health may impact the outcome of people that test positive for coronavirus.

Researchers caution that the study needs more data to strongly link the two conditions together, but they suggest that even a causal link of severity of periodontal health and COVID-19 demands a periodontal health routine be established for anyone at-risk of complications from coronavirus or that has already contracted the virus.

Causality isn’t addressed in the study, and there are obvious limitations involved, note the researchers.

The researchers conducting the study recommend further research in the area in an effort to understand the connection between periodontal disease and coronavirus outcome. A better understanding of this relationship can help produce lower risk classification and even novel interventions.

Take Early Precautions to Improve Oral and Periodontal Health

Periodontal health, and oral health in general, can be maintained with regular screenings. Routine dental visits can catch the disease early on, but you should also:

·         Schedule regular checkups

·         Brush twice daily

·         Floss once daily

Knowing the warning signs of periodontal disease can also help. Early warning signs include teeth that are loose or separating, gums that pull away from the teeth, bleeding when brushing, red or swollen gums or even a change in the way your teeth align when you bite.

Preventing periodontitis during and after the COVID-19 pandemic requires the same diligence: brush, schedule routine dental visits and floss.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccines 101: Benefits, Side Effects and How They Work

 

As vaccinations ramp up in BC here is the current information of the Vaccines available


COVID-19 Vaccines 101: Benefits, Side Effects and How They Work

COVID-19 vaccines are being administered worldwide. Three main vaccines have been approved. A fourth has been approved in many locations, but it has come into question. The four vaccines are from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.

It's important to understand how these vaccines work and their potential side effects.

Two Main Types of Vaccines: mRNA and Viral Vector

Vaccines can use numerous technologies to cause an immune response in the body and begin creating antibodies. Two main types of vaccines are in use to fight COVID-19: mRNA and Viral Vector.

What is an mRNA Vaccine?

Pfizer and Moderna, both two-shot vaccines, use what is known as messenger RNA, or mRNA. These vaccines require an S protein from the coronavirus. When injected, the mRNA will act as instructions that your cells can “read” and use to begin protecting against the coronavirus.

S Proteins are harmless pieces of the virus and do not give you the virus.

Instead, your body will make the protein pieces and initiate an immune response from the body. Your body will realize that the protein is foreign, so the body will ramp up an immune response and create antibodies to fight off the protein.

Since this protein is part of the COVID-19 virus, your body will now know how to create an immune response to kill the coronavirus, or at least the variants that they protect against.

What is a Viral Vector Vaccine?

A viral vector vaccine uses some of COVID-19's genetic material, which is placed into a weakened, live virus. Oftentimes, the material is placed in the adenovirus and then administered.

The viral vector, or the weakened form of the virus, will make its way into your cells.

Once in the cells, your body will make S protein copies. When the S protein reaches the cell’s surface, the immune system will recognize the protein as foreign and then will initiate the body’s immune response.

Your body will begin creating:

·         White blood cells (defensive)

·         Antibodies to fight the coronavirus

The antibodies will help fight off the coronavirus if you become infected. It's important to know that the viral vaccine doesn’t cause infection of the coronavirus, nor will it have any impact on your DNA.

Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca are viral vector vaccines.

4 Main Vaccines: Benefits, Side Effects and How They Work

Pfizer-BioNTech

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two injections that are spread 21 days apart. The second shot can be administered up to six weeks later. When you receive the second shot, it’s a sort of “reminder” to the body that there’s a threat of this virus and to create antibodies to kill it.

Due to the second shot, the vaccine is able to reach an efficacy rate of 95%.

Side Effects

·         Chills

·         Fever

·         Headache

·         Muscle pain

·         Nausea

·         Tiredness

·         Swelling (injection site)

·         Pain (injection site)

·         Redness (injection site)

Moderna

Moderna’s vaccine is similar to the Pfizer vaccine in almost all ways. A second shot is required within 28 days, although the shot can be delayed up to six weeks if necessary. The vaccine is 94% effective following the second dose.

Side Effects

·         Chills

·         Fever

·         Headache

·         Muscle pain

·         Nausea

·         Tiredness

·         Swelling (injection site)

·         Pain (injection site)

·         Redness (injection site)

Janssen/Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson is a single-shot vaccine that can be stored in a refrigerator. The single shot is beneficial because people are more likely to go for a single shot and the rate of vaccination can improve greatly.

Effectiveness in preventing the virus is 66% following a 14-day period after the shot.

At least 28 days after vaccination, the vaccine was able to prevent 85% of severe cases.

Side Effects

·         Chills

·         Fever

·         Headache

·         Muscle pain

·         Nausea

·         Tiredness

·         Swelling (injection site)

·         Pain (injection site)

·         Redness (injection site)

AstraZeneca

The AstraZeneca vaccine is in question at the moment due to a person suffering from blood clots. Medical agencies are examining the vaccine with more scrutiny to determine if whether the blood clots were related to the vaccine.

Ease-of-use and cost effectiveness are two of the main benefits of AstraZeneca.

Efficacy was 62% for preventing symptomatic disease, although this figure is often reported as being in the lower 70s in many cases. The vaccine does require two shots that are 4 to 12 weeks apart.

Side Effects

·         Chills

·         Fever

·         Feeling of being tired

·         Pain at injection site

Keep in mind that all vaccines pose a risk of an allergic reaction, although these risks are low. A person with severe allergies or that has health-related issues should consult with their doctors before getting the vaccine.

Side effects from all of the listed vaccines can vary from person to person, but the most common side effects are listed. Most people will have symptoms for a day or two, while others will have no side effects at all.

Multiple other vaccines are in production or being used around the world, including vaccines in Russia and India.

Over time, new COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be released as clinical trials are completed. A few of the most common questions asked before a person gets a vaccine are:

·         Do these vaccines protect against COVID variants? Yes, and no. The vaccines listed have shown to protect against a variety of variants, including the U.K and South Africa variants. As new variants enter the population, booster shots may be required to protect against variants.

·         Can the vaccine give you COVID? No. The live virus is not used in any of the above listed vaccines.

·         Can I still get COVID? Yes. No vaccine is 100% effective yet. The vaccines have been shown to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. While your body builds immunity following the vaccine, you’re still susceptible to the virus and not protected against serious illness.

You should direct any questions that you may have to your physician or the person administering the vaccine to you. As more people get vaccinated, the rate of transmission should drop significantly and allow people to go back to a sense of normalcy, although the virus may continue to remain in the wild.

At this time, vaccine makers are unsure of how long your body will maintain high enough antibodies to fight off the virus.

Monday, March 1, 2021

 

6 Parenting Hacks to Get Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth


Getting your kids to brush and floss can feel like an uphill battle. Some days, it’s hard enough getting them to take a bath and to bed on time. But instilling a healthy oral hygiene routine early will help your kids maintain a healthy smile well into adulthood.

With one in five kids having at least one decaying tooth, it’s important for parents to help their kids establish a solid oral hygiene routine.

If you’re struggling to get your kids to brush their teeth regularly, these six parenting hacks can help.

1. Set a Good Brushing Example

Kids learn by example, so set a good one. Make sure that you’re brushing and flossing your own teeth at least twice a day. Have fun with it. Dance. Sing. Have a good time. When your kids see just how much fun you’re having, they’ll be eager to follow in your footsteps.

2. Tell Them Why Brushing is So Important

Kids have more incentive to brush their teeth if they know why it’s so important. Don’t get too technical with the details. Break it down into a language that your children will understand:

·         Brushing keeps your teeth healthy and clean.

·         Brushing gets rid of that icky, sticky stuff on your teeth!

·         If you don’t brush and floss, you may get cavities that can hurt.

If you’re having trouble explaining it in a way that your little ones can understand, your child’s dentist can help.

3. Play Show and Tell

Show your child how to brush and floss. Explain what you’re doing and why it’s important. If you have any fillings, you can show your child what happens if you don’t brush your teeth regularly.

The goal isn’t to scare your kids into brushing, but to say, “hey, removing that sticky stuff is important if you want to keep your teeth healthy and strong.”

While you’re playing show and tell, have your kids practice brushing on a teddy bear or other toy. This will give them a confidence boost and show them that brushing isn’t as hard as it looks.

4. Choose Brushes with Fun Handles

Give your kids brushes they want to use - ones with their favorite superhero or cartoon character on the handle. They’ll be eager to brush every day if they know they’ll be brushing with Superman or their favorite Paw Patrol character.

There are so many kid-friendly brushes with fun handles. Let your kids pick out their brushes, so they can feel like they're part of the decision-making process.

5. Make a Dental Chart with Stickers

Positive reinforcement is a great way to get kids to adopt new and healthy habits. Tooth brushing is no different. Rewarding your kids for a job well done will encourage them to keep up their brushing habits.

Make a fun dental chart for your kids, and give them stickers each time they brush their teeth for a whole two minutes. Maybe you can offer a bigger reward if they brush and floss every day for an entire week or month.

Choose stickers you know your kids will love. Feel free to get creative with your chart, too. Make it as simple or elaborate as you want. You can also find plenty of printable charts online as well as reward charts for kids.

6. Having Fun with Flossing

Brushing is just one piece of the puzzle. Flossing is just as important, but it can also be just as challenging to get kids to adopt this habit.

If you can make flossing fun, you can get your kids on board. Look for flossers with easy handles that are comfortable for kids to use. You can find flossers in all shapes, sizes, colors and designs.

Bonus Tip: Have FUN! Sing and Dance

Make brushing time a fun time. Sing songs, dance and laugh. Brush together to reinforce the importance of brushing your teeth.

Check out YouTube for fun brushing songs you can sing together. In addition to having fun, kids will also learn how to brush their teeth and why it’s important.