Is there a link between Covid-19 and dental health? I've been hearing some friends say there could be a connection.

The relationship between general and dental health and particularly gum health has been studied over and over again and positive links have been established with gum health and diabetes, hypertension, stroke, dementia, low birth weight for pregnant women amongst many others.

It's important to remember that the gums have an extremely good blood supply and unfortunately the mouth is the dirtiest part of the human body with more than 600 varieties of bacteria. These bacteria enter the bloodstream whenever there is a breach – think bleeding gums and this can cause inflammatory markers to rise and this is what is thought to cause the increase in blood pressure, making hypertension worse and also all the other issues that come with it such as heart, brain and kidney disease.

Since Covid-19 is a disease which triggers an exaggerated inflammatory response by the body, any potential bacterial "harbour" can initiate the whole body into a crisis mode and worsen Covid symptoms.

What this means is having good gum health might not prevent you from catching the Covid-19 but it is thought to reduce the severity of the complications that arise from it. So, if you have any signs of gum disease such as bleeding gums, the presence of tartar, visibly red gums and so on, it would be a good idea to have your teeth professionally cleaned and assessed thoroughly to improve gum health.

I have severe snoring and sleep apnea. I don’t want to use a CPAP machine, which has been prescribed. Can a dental appliance help me?

Yes. Appliances called mandibular advancement devices can help with snoring and reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. This dental anti-snoring appliance works by positioning the jaw slightly forward so that the tongue moves out of the way and opens up the airway. The newer devices are adjustable so the patient or the dentist can very easily adjust the amount of jaw protrusion to balance out the comfort and ease of breathing. The process of making a dental anti-snoring device usually takes two to three sittings and is quick and painless. Follow-ups are recommended to make sure that it continues to fit well and that you are able to sleep well.

Meanwhile, please continue with your CPAP until you get your dental appliance delivered and adjusted to minimise the risk of any adverse effects of the apnea.