The pandemic that resulted from the COVID-19 virus has caused millions of deaths and inflicted countless other health issues upon the world's population.
Connections Between COVID-19 & Oral Health
The COVID-19 virus — also known as SARS-CoV-2 — has very common and recognizable symptoms. Primary symptoms include a fever, cough, fatigue, and a loss of taste and/or smell. There are also lesser, not-as-common symptoms too. Mouth health issues fall into that category, as some studies have shown a connection between COVID and oral health
A study showed a connection between patients who tested positive for COVID and mouth sores developing. The sores were both in the mouth and outside of the mouth, aphthous-like and superficial necrosis.
The patients were male and female, with COVID severity levels ranging from mild to moderate to severe. The age range of the patients spanned from the late 20s to early 80s.
Another study determined that of 170 people who tested positive for COVID-19, 75 developed dry mouth. Dry mouth is also a contributing factor to developing gum disease. Gum pain is a symptom of gum disease, so COVID-19 indirectly contributes to both.
Grinding teeth is another indirect effect of COVID-19. For a variety of reasons, including transmission potential and avoiding being indoors with others, many people delayed routine medical procedures. Included in that list are regular dental checkups.
The fear associated with COVID-19 has increased stress levels in many people. In some folks, this has resulted in grinding teeth at night. That can result in cracked or chipped teeth in addition to jaw pain.
Jaw & Tooth Pain
An increase in stress levels associated with the COVID-19 pandemic due to economic uncertainty, increased health risks in other areas, social isolation, and mental health issues such as depression created a rise in those suffering from temporomandibular disorders (TMD). That leads to jaw pain. The pain can spread to the face and neck. TMD causes other symptoms related to jaw and tooth pain. They include lockjaw, clicking or popping sounds emanating from the jaw, headaches, tooth sensitivity, and limited range of motion.
Some health conditions can cause tooth discoloration. Stained teeth often appear to be yellow. However, there is no direct link between COVID-19 and tooth discoloration.
The link is between using doxycycline to treat bacterial infections that accompany the virus. Doxycycline is an antibiotic that has the side effect of discoloring teeth, specifically turning them yellow.
Periodontal disease is prevalent in those who suffer from health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. It also is more common in seniors. Folks who fall into one of those classifications also tend to be more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
Swollen gums aren’t a direct symptom caused by COVID; however, people who fall into the above-mentioned categories and test positive for the virus are more apt to have swollen gums.
Similar to swollen gums, bleeding gums isn’t a typical COVID symptom. But it is a common symptom that indicates gum disease. Folks who suffer from one of the above-mentioned health issues and test positive for the virus are more apt to have bleeding gums.
Bleeding gums is an indication of gingivitis — the first stage of gum disease. Left untreated, gingivitis will progress into periodontal disease, followed by advanced periodontal disease.
Cavities and tooth decay also do not directly result from COVID, but this is another dental health area that was neglected by patients during the pandemic. Many patients neglected office visits and regular checkups throughout the pandemic, which lead to a lower standard of teeth cleaning care.
Neglecting oral care, including professional cleanings, leads to an increase in cavities and decay.
Find a Dentist Near Me
Consult your dentist to discuss any questions about COVID-19 and dental issues. Or, check out The Smile Generation Find a Dentist Tool to find a dentist near you for all your oral health needs. You can read patient reviews, peruse staff bios, and schedule an appointment online with a click of your mouse.
• Yetman, Daniel, “Are Sore Gums a Symptom of COVID-19?” Healthline, July 9, 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/sore-gums-covid
• Mozes, Alan, "Here's How COVID-19 Can Affect Your Mouth", WebMD, September 8, 2021https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20210908/heres-how-covid-19-can-affect-your-mouth#1
• Reyhaneh Eghbali Zarch and Pegah Hosseinzadeh, “COVID‐19 from the perspective of dentists: A case report and brief review of more than 170 cases” National Library of Medicine, January 1, 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7883121/
• Brandão, Thaís Bianca, et al, “Oral lesions in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection: could the oral cavity be a target organ?” National Library of Medicine, August 18, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7434495/
• Emodi-Perlman, Alona, “Temporomandibular Disorders and Bruxism Outbreak as a Possible Factor of Orofacial Pain Worsening during the COVID-19 Pandemic—Concomitant Research in Two Countries,” Journals of Clinical Medicine, August 23, 2020, https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/9/10/3250
• Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/temporomandibular-disorder-tmd
• Chakraborty, Trishnika, “A Review of Prolonged Post-COVID-19 Symptoms and Their Implications on Dental Management,” International Journal of Environmental research and Public Health, March 27, 2021, https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/10/5131/htm
• Conforti, Claudio, “Doxycycline, a widely used antibiotic in dermatology with a possible anti‐inflammatory action against IL‐6 in COVID‐19 outbreak” Dermatologic Therapy, May 15, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7235480/