Research shows that people with poor oral health can end up with more severe symptoms if they catch the coronavirus. COVID patients who also have gum disease are 3.5 times as likely to be admitted to intensive care compared to those without.
They’re also 4.5 times as likely to need to be put on a ventilator and nine times as likely to die from COVID.
This may seem shocking, but the fact that there’s a link between oral health and COVID is less surprising when considering the link between oral hygiene and other diseases.
Bad oral hygiene has been associated with making many other diseases worse. Principally this happens when bad hygiene is sustained for long periods, leading to dysbiosis – where the bacteria in the mouth change from a peaceful state into an aggressive one.
Once the mouth’s bacteria become aggravated, they can cause gum disease, chewing away at the tissues of the mouth and entering the blood stream. And once there, the bacteria can then flow around the body and settle in various organs, raising levels of inflammation and over time contributing to various specific and chronic conditions.
While the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and its emerging variants and subvariants continue to sweep through the world, researchers are finding out more about how damaging and deadly this virus truly is.
Although most people by now know that the COVID-19 disease can have horrible effects on your lungs and other organs, many may be surprised to learn that other parts of their body such as the oral cavity is also at risk of damage as well.
Since COVID acts as an infection, it rapidly spreads through your body, putting your health and well-being at risk with every breath. It can also in the same way affect your gums and teeth and other parts and tissues of the oral cavity.
From tooth discoloration to gum disease, there are many oral health effects of COVID-19.
The three most common oral problems amid the epidemic were gingival bleeding, bad breath and oral ulcers.
Adults in Wuhan tended to be more seriously affected and suffered more oral problems than people from other places in China. Maintaining good oral health behaviours plays an important role in preventing dental problems. It is crucial to establish and to follow the standard guidelines for the provision of dental care during and after the epidemic.
Although research is still ongoing, there have been numerous reports and stories regarding the strange impacts of this virus on oral health. COVID-19 patients and parents of COVID-19 patients have started to report that teeth have turned grey, become loose, and fallen out.
Most of these patients have not had any previous oral health issues, and have only started noticing these symptoms after having COVID-19.
COVID-19 Affects The Blood Flow
The proper flow of blood is essential for regulating your oral health. There has been increasing research to show that COVID-19 heavily disrupts the flow of blood throughout the body, which can have dangerous long-term effects.
Due to ongoing vasculature damage, the body cannot maintain all parts of the body as well as it used to, which means that parts of your body will start to decay. This is most commonly seen in the teeth, which can turn gray and fall out very quickly.
SARS -CoV-2 Binds To ACE2 Receptors
The human cells contain something called ACE2 receptors, which are proteins that help with vascular activities in the body. ACE2 receptors are found more often in the mouth and lungs, or the parts of the body involved with breathing.
The coronavirus latches on to ACE2 receptors when it enters the body, making it easy for the disease to start doing damage to your oral health right away.
One of the virus’s favorite parts of the body to latch onto?
Cavities! Research shows that cavities are a gateway for COVID-19. It is important to get treatment for your cavities and invest in oral health as quickly as you can so you can keep protecting yourself against this debilitating disease.
COVID-19 Causes Dry Mouth or Xerostomia
Studies are Showing That SARS-CoV-2 causes Dry Mouth or Xerostomia
Xerostomia or dry mouth, occurs when there is inadequate saliva to keep the mouth moist. This makes it difficult to break down food, wash food particles away from the mouth, and swallow food.
Dry mouth may be an early symptom of COVID-19, and it was one of the most common oral symptoms reported by 108 people in a study.
The research authors say that dry mouth may be a direct effect of the SARS-CoV-2 virus infecting and damaging the salivary glands. It may also occur due to poor oral hygiene or as a side effect of COVID-19 treatment.
Typically, without treatment, dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay and infection in the mouth.
COVID-19 Can Cause Oral Ulcers
Typical like all other viral infections, SARS-CoV-2 impairs the immune system and makes a person susceptible to other secondary conditions.
Certain individuals recovering from a COVID-19 infection have observed ulcers in their mouth. For some, doctors have found these ulcers to be thrush-like, while others have seemed fairly unspecific.
An oral ulcer may develop as a white patch on the tongue, gums, or roof of the mouth.
Typical symptoms include:
- white or red bumps in the mouth
- dull pain
- discomfort while eating and drinking
- a burning sensation
Normally mouth ulcers tend to resolve on their own in 1–2 weeks. A person should consult a doctor if ulcers persist for longer than 3 weeks, as this could indicate another opportunistic infection.
Alternatively, a local pharmacist can recommend some simple measures to treat an ulcer a home. These measures could take the form of an antimicrobial mouthwash, a topical gel or cream, medicated lozenges, or a mouth spray.
COVID-19 Could Also Cause Bruxism And Cracked Teeth
The American Dental Association reported that dentists have noted a 59% increase in teeth grinding, or bruxism, and a 53% increase in chipped and cracked teeth since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Published studies also support the occurrence of this. https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/9/10/3250
Some studies suggest that this can occur as a result of higher anxiety levels during the pandemic and poor posture resulting from a work-from-home environment.
The dental experts explain that anxiety and poor posture can cause people to clench their jaw and grind their teeth. These are involuntary behaviors that stem from added stress. The result is increased pressure on the teeth that weakens them and makes them more prone to crack.
Cases of chipped or cracked teeth have also occurred in people with severe COVID-19. One study suggests that people in critical care, such as those who need ventilators, experience a range of complications, including chipped teeth. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7261657/