COVID-19 does not just stop with respiratory illness, it seems to spread and affect the mouth too.
Though there is plenty left to research about the effects of COVID-19, some studies on how and why COVID-19 and dental health are related are starting to emerge
COVID-19 symptoms in the mouth, teeth, and gums
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, gets into your bloodstream via a receptor called ACE2. This receptor is like the front door that allows the virus into the cells.
And, guess where there are lots of cells with ACE2 receptors? Your mouth, tongue, and gums.
Moreover, people with poor oral health also tend to have more ACE2 receptors, further linking the connection between COVID-19 and oral health.
According to a study that examined the connection between dental health and COVID-19 symptoms and severity, about 75 percent of those with severe dental disease were hospitalized with COVID-19. And none of those with any obvious signs of dental disease were hospitalized.
But this could also be that people with poorer dental health tend to have other chronic medical conditions as well.
However, there aren’t a lot of studies that link COVID-19 as a cause of poor dental health. There are no significant reports of mouth-related symptoms as part of a person’s COVID-19 disease presentation either.
In a systematic review of 54 studies describing COVID-19 symptoms, dental pain or mouth-related symptoms were not in the top 12 symptoms reported. Fever (81.2 percent), cough (58.5 percent), and fatigue (38.5 percent) were the most common symptoms.
But this doesn’t mean a person may not experience tooth-related symptoms or effects during or after COVID-19. As with any illness, you may not care for yourself as you normally would. You likely don’t eat the same foods or pay the same level of attention to dental hygiene. This could lead to indirect side effects.
Treatment options for COVID-19 teeth pain
If you have dental pain during COVID-19 or immediately after, taking 400 milligrams of ibuprofen can be more effective than acetaminophen in managing dental pain. Cold compresses (soft washcloths soaked in cool water) applied to the outside of the cheeks may also help.
If you develop oral infections, such as oral thrush, while they have COVID-19 use prescribed antifungal medications.
Bad timing where a cavity or otherwise infected tooth could flare up during COVID-19. Call your dentist if taking over-the-counter pain relievers doesn’t help.
Frequently asked questions
A 2020 study says that those who practice good oral hygiene may reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms if they were to get the virus.
Bleeding gums aren’t listed as a common symptom of COVID-19, however blood clotting instead of bleeding has been reported as a COVID-19 side effect. Moreover, bleeding gums can be a sign of gum disease. But better to wait till you feel better before the dentist visit.
In a case study describing a patient who reported a full-body rash as part of their symptoms, the authors stated that only 2 out of 1,099 people with COVID-19 reported any kind of rash as part of their symptoms. If you’re experiencing this, talk with your doctor about other possible causes for mouth sores.
A white coating on the tongue could be for several reasons. For example, oral candidiasis or oral thrush can cause a white coating on the tongue. While COVID-19 doesn’t cause thrush, the SARS-CoV-2 virus does affect the immune system. This could make a person more vulnerable to another infection, such as thrush.
In addition to white patches or coating on the throat and tongue, you may also experience the following symptoms of oral thrush:
Use prescribed topical medications or pills to help fight the fungus that causes thrush.
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can be a common side effect of stress.
A 2020 review highlighted the possible connections between stress and awake bruxism or clenching your jaw while awake. As the pandemic has created stressful situations for most people, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see an increase in this condition.
Complications of teeth grinding can include:
Precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19 are as follows
Discolored or yellow teeth aren’t a directly known occurrence from COVID-19.
However, there are some reports that the medications used to treat COVID-19 may result in yellow teeth or tooth discolorations. One example is doxycycline, an antibiotic known to cause yellow teeth or teeth staining.
While antibiotics don’t treat viruses like SARS-CoV-2, they do treat bacterial infections (like pneumonia) that can occur as a side effect of COVID-19.
There aren’t reports of teeth falling out as a side effect of COVID-19.
If you were sick for a long time and neglected your dental health, it’s possible this could lead to tooth decay and tooth loss. But currently, there’s no known direct link between COVID-19 and teeth falling out.
You could experience jaw or tooth pain related to clenching your jaw due to stress over COVID-19. But jaw or tooth pain isn’t a specific reported symptom of COVID-19.
Researchers will continue to study the links between COVID-19, and dental health and side effects.
Because new strains could develop, it’s possible they could affect dental health. If you have a dental-related concern, talk with your dentist to maintain your oral health.
COVID-19 does not just stop with respiratory illness, it seems to spread and affect the mouth too. Though there is plenty left to research about the effects of COVID-19, some studies on how and why COVID-19 and denta...
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