News from research: Health begins in the mouth . Does oral immunocompetence protect against Covid-19?
The oral mucosa is probably the first entry point for the corona virus. This is supported, among other things, by the fact that the sense of taste is often impaired in Covid-19 patients.
At the same time, the virus inhibits various immune functions after penetrating the mucosa. This can lead to a more severe corona course of the disease. Conversely, a healthy oral mucosa acts as protection against infection.
Periodontitis as another risk factor for severe Covid desease
Patients with Covid-19 who also have periodontitis have an increased risk of having a severe Covid infection. A study with more than 13,000 patients showed an increased risk of even death by a factor of 1.7 for SARS-CoV-2-positive patients who also had periodontal disease.
Periodontitis thus appears to be a risk factor for a severe course in Covid-19 patients.
Prof. Dr. R. Frankenberger, President of the German Society for Oral and Maxillofacial Medicine DGZMK, has been advocating since autumn 2020:
"Prevention of diseases of the teeth and gums strengthen the immune competence at the point of origin of the covid virus infection and help, via this fitter function, to prevent diseases or to mitigate their course."
The importance and maintenance of individual oral immunocompetence is therefore of central importance. COVID-19 prevention must not end with the mouthguard - the oral immune system forms the first line of defence in the infection process and requires special attention.
The importance and maintenance of individual oral immunocompetence is therefore central to COVID-19 prevention. It requires good and continuous home oral hygiene, dental check-ups and dental cleanings.
A recent method to test oral immunocompetence is the MMP-8 test.
This rapid biomarker test uses levels of activated matrix metalloproteinase-8 (aMMP-8) to check oral immunocompetence, the health of the oral mucosa and whether it is performing its barrier function.
The level of aMMP-8 provides information on whether and to what extent collagen degradation is occurring or inflammatory processes are at work. Elevated aMMP-8 levels are an indication of an activated immune system and a disturbed barrier of the oral mucosa due to degradation of the collagen structures.
This simple mouth rinse test for aMMP-8 provides information about the immune competence and the functional efficiency of the oral barrier in five minutes.
Because: pathogenic, disease-causing oral germs lead to many dreaded secondary infections of the respiratory tract. It is possible that this can even trigger pneumonia or even blood poisoning.
Periodontitis is the most common infectious disease - young people also affected
Against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, this fact must be given special significance. Because globally, between 20 and 50 percent of the population suffer from periodontitis - often without knowing it.
In Germany alone, this affects more than 11.5 million people. Advanced periodontitis with a pocket depth of more than 6 mm affects 10 to 15 percent of the world's population. The World Health Organisation even speaks of it as the most common infectious disease worldwide. A Finnish study was able to show with the help of the aMMP-8 test that periodontitis is not only an issue in adults, but already plays a role in young people. This is interesting against the background of the increasingly younger COVID-19 patients with fatal outcomes.
The better the "immune competence", the better the body fights diseases - including COVID-19.
Elevated levels in the aMMP-8 saliva test have been shown in numerous studies to play a central role not only in oral diseases. It can also be significantly elevated in general diseases. These include, for example, diabetes, chronic heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's disease as well as infertility and complications during pregnancy.
Thus, the aMMP-8 oral rinse test offers a simple and quick way to test a person's general immunocompetence in addition to oral immunocompetence. When the immune system is activated, it releases aMMP-8 as part of inflammatory reactions. If the value is high, the immune system is activated.
Patients should then be advised that if this is the case, they need to improve their oral hygiene as much as possible. This includes cleaning the spaces between the teeth, using antimicrobial mouth rinses several times a day, and brushing their teeth after every meal. In addition, they should consult their family doctor if their aMMP-8 levels remain high!