“COVID is not over,” warned the World Health Organization’s Director-General in the World Health Assembly kickstarted on May 22, 2022. This warning underlines the possibility of more COVID cases and, consequently, more instances of long-COVID. Furthermore, COVID-19 and post-COVID give rise to several health complications, including the onset or worsening of oral health conditions. Continue reading this blog to learn more about oral health and COVID.
How Safe is Dentist’s Office During COVID-19?
No doubt everybody had the fear of getting infected before visiting any doctor during COVID. People come in contact with germs any time also, health care centers ensure to follow the safety guidelines to keep the environment clean and hygienic.
The Effect of Delay in Dental Treatment
COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory disease. However, since its air-borne, lockdowns were implemented to contain the virus. Consequently, appointments got canceled, many people could not get oral health treatment on time, and their teeth and gum health went downhill. In addition, staying confined to their homes 24X7 led to people eating and drinking more frequently. The disturbed daily routine made people neglectful of oral hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing twice a day, contributing to bad oral health. This phenomenon affected adults and children alike. For example, a 2021-study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association showed many children changed their eating and drinking routine and faltered in oral care habits during the lockdown. These disruptions put them at a greater risk of developing caries.
The Economic Effect of the Pandemic on Oral Health
Many people lost their jobs because of the pandemic-led economic upheavals. As a result, it directly affected their ability to afford dental treatments, with or without insurance coverage. For example, the report on the state of oral health equity in America 2021 by CareQuest estimates that about 6 million adults in America lost their dental insurance or saw a change in benefits because of a job loss because of COVID-19. Among them, 65% of people reported oral symptoms stemming from an oral health problem. Moreover, Moreover, dental care treatment of about 28 million or 11% of adults in America got delayed because of the pandemic. The reasons included the cost of treatment, lack of insurance, fear of exposure to the virus, and COVID-19 infection.
Pandemic-Induced Stress and Oral Health
The risk of catching the virus, the safety of loved ones, job security, and news of deaths during the pandemic have been overwhelmingly stressful. As we know, stress impacts the body in several ways, including oral health effects. It causes many people to grind their teeth when sleeping. Teeth grinding leads to enamel erosion, cracked and chipped teeth, tooth sensitivity, and pain in the temples. The issue can worsen without treatment. Your dentist may recommend wearing a mouth guard to protect your teeth while asleep. Stress makes you lax about your oral health routine and pushes you to reach for ‘comfort foods’ (generally high in sugar and refined carbs), caffeine, alcohol, or smoking. An unhealthy diet and lack of regular oral hygiene sooner or later cause plaque buildup, caries, gum disease, and even tooth loss.
What Are the Other COVID-19-Related Oral Health Diseases?
Besides teeth-grinding and stress-induced oral issues, dry mouth is also likely to be associated with COVID-19. It refers to the decreased saliva production that endangers your oral health. Saliva keeps your mouth clean naturally. However, when there’s not enough saliva, the food particles and harmful bacteria hover in your mouth, increasing the possibility of cavities, plaque formation, and bad breath. One of the reasons for xerostomia during COVID is the SARS COV-2-led alterations in the salivary glands. In many patients, dry mouth or xerostomia occurs a little before the other symptoms of COVID, namely cough, fatigue, and fever. In addition, coping with COVID-related stress or social drinking to overcome isolation brought by the lockdowns may have contributed to an increased alcohol intake, a leading cause of dry mouth. If your mouth feels parched, drink more water, drink moderately, and eat leafy greens and solid fruits.
Halitosis (Bad breath)
Wearing a face mask for long hours and breathing through the mouth when the mask is on desiccate oral tissues. It increases the unhealthy bacteria in the mouth and causes halitosis (bad breath).
The research on the link between COVID-19 and gum disease is worrying. It shows that COVID-19 severely impacts those with gum diseases. This study is concerning because almost half of the adults in America have a gum disease, which means a significant population is at the risk of severe COVID outcomes. The research also found that people with periodontitis were 8.8 times more likely to succumb to COVID-19-related complications. The ICU admission rate of such patients was also 3.5 times more. This is because gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis trigger an inflammatory response in the body and cause systemic issues. The early symptoms of gum disease include:
- Red swollen gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Bad breath
- Tender and irritated gums
- Pain in gums
Visit a dentist in Bonita if you have noticed any of these signs for more than a week.
COVID Teeth refers to the effects of the Coronavirus specifically on teeth. In severe cases, it includes discoloration, tooth pain, enamel loss, tooth sensitivity, and tooth loss. Research is still underway to determine the causes of these symptoms in COVID patients. However, possible explanations include the effect of COVID medicines, overall compromised immunity, and lack of oral hygiene in quarantine. For example, doxycycline, an antibiotic prescribed to treat pneumonia after COVID, may cause yellow or stained teeth.
Oral Ulcers or Gingival Breakdown
Evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 damages the blood vessels, disrupting the blood supply to the mouth. This triggers oral ulcerations, i.e., the formation of different types of lesions in the mouth. Gingival breakdown, which means impairment of the tissues that support gums, is also an outcome of COVID-19. Research by the Angiogenesis Foundation indicates that SARS-CoV-2 binds to and damages the ACE-2 receptors in endothelial cells that line blood vessels. Consequently, the body goes through oxygen deprivation. When it comes to the mouth his effect manifests itself as dying gum tissue and ulcerations. COVID-19-induced inflammation may worsen these issues.
Is it safe to visit dental clinic during COVID-19?
Dentists take certain precautions to safeguard you against the spread of coronavirus. There are ways for self precautions:
1. Wear masks
2. Wear face shields
3. Use hand gloves
Also, don’t miss to ask your dentist about the precaution measures they might have taken after treating your previous patient.
Does Corona cause tooth pain?
There are chances of jaw clenching which usually happens due to the stress caused by COVID-19. But, still it is not confirmed as a reported symptom of COVID-19.
Why the tooth color fades away due to COVID-19?
There are no confirmation that the medications used to treat COVID-19 may cause your teeth to stain. But if, you are taking medications for COVID-29, consult your doctor about the side-effects.
Is white coating on the tongue a COVID-19 symptom?
White coating on the tongue can happen due to several other reasons like oral thrush or candidiasis. Consult your doctor for the proper treatment.
If you are experiencing any COVID-related oral health issues, schedule an appointment with your dentist without further delay.