October 3, 2022

COVID-19 is predominantly a respiratory disease. But many people have reported symptoms that go beyond the respiratory system, including those affecting the mouth.
There’s still a lot to learn about the connection between COVID-19 and a variety of different symptoms. But some studies on how and why COVID-19 and dental health are related are starting to emerge.
Keep reading to find out more about the possible connection between dental symptoms and COVID-19.
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.
People who have poor oral health also tend to have more ACE2 receptors, further linking the connection between COVID-19 and oral health.
One study examined the connection between dental health and COVID-19 symptoms and severity. The study’s authors found a close connection between the severity of dental disease and the severity of COVID-19.
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.
This may be because those 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.
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.
Some people can develop oral infections, such as oral thrush, while they have COVID-19. If this is the case, a doctor can prescribe antifungal medications.
It’s important to remember that you could also have bad timing when it comes to dental pain and COVID-19. A cavity or otherwise infected tooth could flare up during COVID-19. As a result, you may need to call your dentist if taking over-the-counter pain relievers doesn’t help.
Dentists connect good oral hygiene with good overall health. 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.
Although more research on this subject is needed, keep reading to consider some of the possible connections between oral health and COVID-19.
Bleeding gums aren’t listed as a common symptom of COVID-19, according to a review of studies of COVID-19 symptoms. Blood clotting instead of bleeding has been reported as a COVID-19 side effect.
However, bleeding gums can be a sign of gum disease. You shouldn’t ignore them. But your dentist may have you wait to go into the office until after you’re feeling better.
Rashes are not a commonly reported COVID-19 symptom.
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.
A rash in the mouth isn’t currently reported in the literature. So, it’s unlikely a rash in the mouth is related to COVID-19. 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:
A doctor can prescribe 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:
If this is affecting you, talk with your doctor about treatment options.
Dentists can take special precautions to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Some of the ways they may work to keep you safe include:
It’s a good idea to ask your dentist what precautions they’re taking to keep you safe.
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.
If you need to take medications for COVID-19, you can talk with your doctor about the risks versus benefits of taking the medications.
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.
Last medically reviewed on March 28, 2022
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