As the world continues to be under the grip of COVID-19, doctors and scientists are learning more and more about this condition. One of the areas that researchers are focusing on in order to understand this disease better is the mouth. This is because they think that the mouth has an abundance of receptors targeted by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This receptor, known as the ACE2 receptor is abundant in the mouth and tongue tissue.
Due to this, researchers have linked the following five oral manifestations to the likelihood of a COVID-19 infection.
Doctors have noted that many patients with COVID-19 also present with gingival inflammation. Researchers think that it could be down to two reasons. The first is that COVID-19 affects the body’s immunity and thus makes it possible for infections to attack other parts of the body. It is important to note that not all patients with COVID-19 present with this sign. Related to this but slightly different are patchy spots on the tongues of COVID-19 patients. These patches make it difficult to chew or swallow food.
Another oral manifestation of COVID-19 is xerostomia or dry mouth. While some scientists argue that the dry mouth may be a result of using a face mask, there may be a biological explanation for it. This is because the salivary glands also contain plenty of ACE2 receptors, which are targeted by the virus. The entry of the virus in the salivary glands may interfere with the production of saliva, thus leading to a dry mouth. Having a dry mouth, in turn, increases the risk of bacterial infection in the gums as saliva has anti-bacterial properties.
Another possible oral manifestation of COVID-19 is lesions in the mouth. These are ulcers that occur on the soft tissue of the mouth and can make it very hard to eat or drink anything. Doctors think that the lesions may be caused by a combination of factors including the inflammation of the gums and mouth tissue caused by the virus.
Loss of Taste
Many patients suffering from COVID-19 have said that they lost their sense of taste and smell when COVID-19 set in. Scientists believe that this is caused by the effect of the virus on the ACE2 receptors on the tongue that somehow interfere with the tastebuds. For most patients with this problem, the ability to taste comes back after the viral infection has cleared.
According to the NYT, dentists have been reporting an increase in bruxism among patients with COVID-19. This in turn leads to cracked teeth, TMJ disorder, and other problems. While not sure what the link between this condition and COVID-19 is, they think it could be caused by psychological stress as well as sleep deprivation which are likely to affect patients recovering from COVID-19.
Dr. Alex Rubinov is an experienced dental practitioner in New York. The practice offers a range of services including teeth whitening, smile makeovers, cosmetic dentistry, and orthodontics, to name but a few. Contact the team at (718) 253-0800 for an appointment.