How COVID affects your teeth

How COVID affects your teeth

Throughout the pandemic, we have been made to believe that COVID-19 mainly affected the lungs. However, according to reports, the virus is having an impact on oral health as well. 

Everyone reacts differently to the coronavirus. Some people lose their sense of taste and sense of smell (anosmia). Others experience sky-high fevers, difficulty breathing or even weeks of fatigue. 

Social Media

People have begun sharing stories on social media of how their teeth or gums have weakened after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Some people have also documented the effects the recovery period has had on their mouths. Many say that their teeth became discoloured, broke off or completely fell out. 

Research

There hasn’t been confirmation on a clear and well-established link between oral health and the coronavirus. Scientists are still doing further research. However, some health experts are under the impression that the virus may infect the blood vessels directly and disrupt the blood flow to the gums, teeth and tongue, causing pain and decay. 

The coronavirus is known to infect and attack blood vessels, which leads to clots and clogged blood flow. If blood can’t reach the organs, damage can occur. Doctors have seen virus-related complications within the heart, lungs, intestines, brain and kidneys. It seems that this may be the same as the oral cavity. 

The jaw is fed amply with blood vessels. This is because the teeth, sensitive gums, tongue and taste buds need nurturing. The gums are vascularised, and inside each tooth is where the dental pulp is situated and packed with blood vessels and nerves. 

The underlying vascular damage caused by COVID-19 can persist even after the disease has gone, but over time it can cause dental flare-ups. Teeth have been said to fall out with no blood present, suggesting that blood flow was obstructed, causing the tooth to deteriorate. 

According to a Healthday Report, a new study finds that gum disease may increase hospitalisation or the chance of death if COVID-19 strikes.

The reason? Gum disease can be a sign of inflammation throughout the body.

“It is well-established that systemic inflammation is not only linked to periodontal disease but to several other respiratory diseases as well,” explained Dr James Wilson, president of the American Academy of Periodontology.

“Therefore, maintaining healthy teeth and gums to avoid developing or worsening periodontal disease is crucial amid a global pandemic like COVID-19, which is also known to trigger an inflammatory response,” he continues.

ACE2 receptors

When the virus infects the body, it latches onto the ACE2 receptors, which are a part of our cells. These receptors are in several areas of the body, including the lungs, which explains the respiratory damage that coronavirus inflicts. It turns out that the mouth is also filled with ACE2 receptors. This means that there is a theoretical, biological pathway where the virus could directly affect the mouth. 

Earlier research has shown that the high prevalence of the mouth receptors is the perfect environment in the oral cavity for the virus to camp out and replicate. 

An ongoing study has suggested that patients who are hospitalised with COVID-19 with prior underlying gum disease have a higher risk of respiratory failure. The study also indicated that bone loss could lead to severe complications with the virus. Individuals over the age of 65 are more likely to have a severity of gum disease. 

Prevention of gum disease

THE Prevention of gum disease is possible by brushing and flossing your teeth daily. Individuals should see the dentist at least every six months, and people who have more severe forms of gum disease should go to a periodontist.

Sugar and alcohol are two of the main ingredients found in remedies to counter COVID-19 symptoms, such as a sore throat or dry cough. These are the same ingredients that can increase your risk of oral health problems.

Sugar is used to sweeten bitter-tasting medications but is the primary source of harmful, oral bacteria, which will produce acid and toxins that can harm gums and teeth. Small quantities of alcohol are used in medication too. This can have a significant effect on your teeth, especially if you are using cough syrup for weeks at a time. The acid in alcohol can slowly wear down the protective layer of your teeth. 

Instead, stick to medications that are sugar or alcohol-free. If these medications aren’t possible to find, be sure to stay hydrated. This will prevent harmful oral bacteria. Keeping your mouth healthy will reduce the chances of negatively affecting your teeth should you contract the coronavirus.

There is an intimate connection between teeth and the rest of the body. Other viruses directly affect the oral cavity, such as the Coxsackievirus, which is present in hand, foot and mouth disease, and the herpes virus. HIV can also cause oral pain, bone loss and dental decay because of immunodeficiency. 

Because COVID-19 is a new disease, its full magnitude is still yet to be understood. Doctors describe the dental find as a new area found in their coronavirus ‘puzzle’, hardly complete.   

Medical Assistance

Affinity Dental

Dental insurance helps you to cover the cost of various medical procedures, check-ups and emergencies. The amount that is subsidised by your insurance depends on which type of plan you have. Dental insurance

policies help many people to budget effectively for the cost of major dental procedures by paying a monthly premium instead of having to hand over a lump sum.

As for Affinity Dental, there are three tiers of dental insurance available at different price points. Each of these options covers specific specialist work to various degrees.  Kids and grown-ups all need to visit the dentist at least every six months. Maintenance appointments can start to add up in your budget.

Dental insurance covers you for any additional treatments such as crowns, root canals or fillings, whether at the dentist or specialist practice.  Usually, a dentist will refer you to a specialist, if needed.  If you need to find an Affinity Dental approved dentist in your area, click here.

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