With the pandemic still raging, it’s hard to turn on the news or go on social media and not hear anything about COVID-19. Whether it’s new infection rates, new mutations of the virus, or some other data, the coverage of this sometimes-deadly virus has left many of us stressed and depressed. Maybe that’s why some of the oral health symptoms of COVID are so prevalent, even a year and a half after the pandemic lockdown began.
But while we know many of the side effects COVID has on the body (loss of sense of smell, difficulty breathing), there are many oral health side effects we may not know about. Here are just a few examples of the toll COVID-19 is taking on our oral health.
Dysgeusia is a condition where the affected person has a strong sweet or metallic taste in the mouth, no matter what they eat or try to mask it with. Brushing, gum, and mints do nothing to combat dysgeusia, though they can sometimes mask it temporarily. While it is not known why COVID causes dysgeusia, it can make eating and drinking a very miserable experience.
Hypogeusia is the loss of taste, which can often be accompanied by the loss of smell in COVID patients.
Oral lesions along the gumline have been found in the mouths of some COVID patients. They can be painful, and nobody is sure why they appear.
Unfortunately, while many of these symptoms are temporary, they have been known to last much longer in the condition known as “long COVID” where the side effects of COVID continue long after the initial COVID-19 infections.
It is also interesting to note that the oral health symptoms seem to appear more frequently in patients in Europe than in any other continent, with around half of all cases having at least one oral health side effect.
Other side effects of COVID that may not be caused by a COVID infection are the toll the stress from this illness is taking on our teeth. From stress-related teeth grinding and jaw clenching to avoidance of visiting the dentist, even while the patient is in pain, the pandemic is taking its toll on our collective oral health.
If you do contract COVID-19, be kind to yourself but try to maintain your oral health during your illness the best you can. That means brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and avoiding high sugar foods.
If you haven’t seen Dr. Mingus in a while, give the office a call and schedule an appointment. We can go over everything we’re doing to help stop the spread of COVID here in the office, so you can rest easy knowing your exam is taking place in a safe environment.