Dr Victoria Sampson, who graduated from Barts and the London Hospital and is now working in London’s West End and in North London, has appealed to the dental industry to donate oral health products for her to take into local care homes and hospitals. BioMin Technologies has answered her call with a substantial donation of 10 cartons of BioMin F toothpaste.
Victoria explained: ‘I have been carrying out research with the Eastman and Whittington Hospital into oral health and its relationship to COVID-19 complications. People have been talking about risk factors – obesity, diabetes, hypertension – and they are all linked to gum disease. All these risk factors for COVID-19 are also associated with altered microbiology in the mouth, and my paper concludes that improving your oral hygiene may reduce your risk of developing complications with COVID-19.’
She added: ‘We are all probably going to get COVID-19, but it’s important to identify which patients are likely to develop complications and need to be hospitalised. In my opinion it definitely has to do with oral bacteria, which can lead to a bacterial superinfection and exacerbate a lower respiratory infection.’
Even after the lockdown is relaxed, it’s those most at risk who are least likely to be seen by dentists and hygienists, said Victoria, as they are likely to be the last to be allowed out to visit their dental practice. ‘I worry for my older patients. We have a lot of shielded and vulnerable patients who we won’t see for several months, so I started to collect toothpastes, toothbrushes and so on to take into care homes.’ Through friends who have been redeployed into hospital settings, she has also been able to send products into hospitals, specifically, the Nightingale, Bart’s and the Whittington Hospital. The products are not only for patients but also for staff, who may be struggling to find time to go shopping for these items.
She also aims to educate care home staff in more detail via Facetime about the importance of oral hygiene, to help them support their vulnerable patients while they are unable to access normal dental care.
And it’s not only about the current COVID-19 crisis, Victoria stressed. ‘Oral care is very important for older patients. The biggest killer in care homes is pneumonia. It is also known that one in ten pneumonia-related deaths in patients over 70 could be prevented by improving oral hygiene. Improved oral care could significantly improve that figure. I am keen to encourage staff to motivate and maintain oral health in their patients.’
She is currently starting some new research into the effect of surfactants on the COVID-19 virus, specifically SLS found in both soaps and many toothpastes.
‘People are being advised to wash their hands with soap to destroy the outer membrane of the virus,’ she explained. ‘In that case there’s no reason why brushing your teeth with toothpaste should not also reduce your risk.’
In addition to the substantial donation from BioMin Technologies, Victoria has had deliveries from other companies, and promises from more. Her own practice, 38 Devonshire Street, has given a generous donation, and Victoria wants to make regular trips to local care homes and homeless shelters with supplies. For this she will need ongoing donations.
If as a practice or a dental company you have samples or products you can donate to Victoria’s appeal, please contact her either by email: email@example.com or through Instagram @drvictoriasampson