A new study hypothesizes that the mouth and nose are key entry points for SARS-CoV-2 into the bloodstream—not the airway—and that simple measures like regular toothbrushing and mouthwash could reduce the risk of developing severe lung disease as a result of coronavirus.
The study, the COVID-19 Pathway: A Proposed Oral-Vascular-Pulmonary Route of SARS-CoV-2 Infection and the Importance of Oral Healthcare Measures, was propelled by a medical radiologist’s findings from lung radiology CT scans of COVID-19 patients that showed COVID-19 lung disease is not a pneumonia in the typical sense, but more an inflammation of the pulmonary vessels at the base of the lungs. It hypothesizes the route taken by the virus from saliva in the mouth, via the gums, into the blood vessels of the neck, and chest, through the heart, and to the lung blood vessels.
Researchers say if proved correct, the model could at least partly explain why some individuals develop COVID-19-related lung disease and others don’t. It could also fundamentally change the way COVID-19 is managed, providing a new line of exploration into treatments targeted at the source of the viral reservoir—the mouth.
It states that dental plaque could provide a constant seeding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus directly to the blood vessels of the mouth during illness with COVID-19 and proposes that simple oral hygiene measures, including regular toothbrushing and use of mouthwash products, could help lower the risk of transmission of the virus from the mouth to the lungs.