Coronavirus: Oral immune system influences the risk of infection and the course of the disease

Coronavirus: Oral immune system influences the risk of infection and the course of the disease

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Oral hygiene: an important protection

Against the background of the corona pandemic, it is more important than ever to pay special attention to good oral health, advises the Oral Health Foundation. Because a healthy oral mucosa and an intact oral immune system not only offer a protective function against SARS-CoV-2, but also against other pathogenic germs, which can worsen the course of the disease during an infection.

The Oral Health Foundation advises in a current recommendation to pay more attention to oral hygiene during the corona pandemic. Because the oral cavity is a source of pathogenic germs that get into the body from there. With simple saliva tests, everyone can determine at home how fit their oral immune system is.

Study from Wuhan shows an oral protective function

Researchers from Wuhan, China, showed that a barrier through the oral mucosa and an intact oral immune system can offer protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Even during an infection, the oral immune system and the oral mucosa help to ward off additional bacteria, which in the worst case can lead to complications such as pneumonia and sepsis

Good oral hygiene protects against pneumonia

Another long-term study with 100,000 people over a period of eleven years showed that effective dental hygiene measures reduce the risk of pneumonia as a complication by up to 66 percent. Of course, this is not related to COVID-19 but generally to all diseases.

People with periodontitis and diabetes should take special care

Periodontitis and diabetes are common chronic diseases. Diabetes is also closely related to periodontitis, as diabetics not only have periodontitis more often than healthy people, the severity of periodontitis is higher, the worse the blood sugar is, warns the oral health foundation.

The oral cavity is the first hurdle for SARS-CoV-2

Most of the receptors (ACE2) that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus needs to get into the body are in the mouth. The oral cavity is the most important entry point for the virus. The immune system in the mouth is the first hurdle for germs to enter. The healthier the oral mucosa and the oral immune system, the more difficult it is for germs to overcome this hurdle.

Rapid test provides information

The German Society for Periodontology (DG PARO) and the German Society for Dentistry, Oral and Maxillofacial Medicine (DGZMK) recommend a so-called aMMP-8 test to reveal the state of oral health. This is particularly useful for people with obesity, diabetes and a weak immune system.

The test measures the enzyme aMMP-8 (active matrix metalloproteinase-8), which is largely responsible for tissue breakdown in the oral cavity. The resulting collagen breakdown makes the oral mucosa permeable and enables germs to penetrate more easily.

The important measures for oral hygiene

Regular dental care is the most important measure to improve oral health. According to the Oral Health Foundation, this should include the following:

  • Brush your teeth two to three times a day.
  • Daily cleaning of the interdental spaces with interdental brushes or dental floss.
  • Regular use of suitable antimicrobial mouthwash solutions.


Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • The Mundgesundheitsstiftung GmbH: Diabetes and COVID-19: Self-test now helps to optimize oral immune defense (published: April 9th, 2020),
  • Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study. Fei Zhou, Ting Yu, Ronghui Du, Guohui Fan, Ying Liu, Zhibo Liu, et al .; March 11, 2020,
  • The Association of Periodontal Treatment and Decreased Pneumonia: A Nationwide Population-Based Cohort Study. Li-Chiu Yang, Yih-Jane Suen, Yu-Hsun Wang, etc. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020,
  • High expression of ACE2 receptor of 2019-nCoV on the epithelial cells of oral mucosa. Xu, Hao & Zhong, Liang & Deng, Jiaxin & Peng, Jiakuan & Hongxia, Dan & Zeng, Xin & Li, Taiwen & Chen, Qianming. (2020). International Journal of Oral Science.,

Video: Coronavirus Epidemic Update 9: Fecal-Oral Transmission, Recovery vs Death Rate nCoV (July 2022).


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