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Oral health and COVID-19 present new challenges for the millions whose dental health is critical around the world. It’s more crucial than ever, especially with thousands to millions of adults living with untreated dental conditions and/or pain.
Besides this, oral health is associated with various chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, which pose immediate health risks, requiring urgent care. And recent studies show that the COVID-19 virus may cause damage to our oral health, which can contribute to the heightened risk of complications.
But how exactly does the coronavirus impact our oral health? Read on to find out.
Oral Health and COVID-19
Here are the factors that link oral health and COVID-19:
1. Could cytokine storms be causing oral health problems?
Cytokine Storm has been associated with COVID-19, causing our bodies’ immune system to switch itself on, which may be a reason for the COVID-19 symptom to remain.
Medical authorities and scientists have suggested that another reason for the damage to our mouths and oral cavities may impact those who have higher viral loads present in their mouths and/or nasal cavities.
This is because our mouths are hosts to various ACE2 receptors, and this is what SARS-COV2 latches on to and will replicate. This may have us suffer from milder forms of the infection.
The reason the system switches on for even longer, despite the reduced virus count from our body, is still unclear.
2. Dental damage could affect kids too
Unfortunately, while kids are spared from the serious side effects and after the effects of the infection may experience dental problems. According to COVID-19 survivors who recorded their post-infection symptoms, kids suffer from gum infection, tooth loss and decay, teeth loosening, among other vasculature damage from this infection.
3. The mouth could harbor the virus
Another interesting fact is that when COVID-19 will infect the body, it would latch onto the part of our cells known as ACE2 receptors. Such receptors are rich in various parts of our body, such as our lungs, which explains the respiratory damage the infection inflicts). The mouth is also flush with these receptors!
Research also shows that because of the high amount of ACE2 receptors on our mouths, oral cavities would be the optimal environment for COVID-19 to stay and replicate.
Besides COVID-19, there are other viruses that can infect oral cavities directly, such as herpes, foot and mouth disease, and the Coxsackievirus. There is also HIC, causing oral pain, bone loss, along with dental decay from the immunodeficiency. These are just a few among the many other viruses, which can also affect the immune system in ways that bacteria would build up in our mouths, leading to other issues.
4. Gingival inflammation
Bleeding and inflammation in our oral tissues have been suggested as a result of generalized increases in inflammation because of the rising levels of cytokines and interleukins, which begun with the SARS CoV-2 virus.
The COVID-19 disease severity has shown to be linked to immune dysregulation, which leads to cytokine storms. Periodontal disease may also increase the levels of circulating cytokines, especially in the interleukin-6, an implication of major interleukin that leads to cytokine storms.
5. Oral ulcerations and gingival tissue breakdown
COVID-19 was seen to be associated with vascularity anomalies because of the viral damage on the blood vessels. The president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, William Li, MD, described the process where the virus enters the endothelial cells lining with blood vessels from the ACE2 receptors, damaging them. This leads to oxygen deprivation.
Furthermore, tissue necrosis, along with oral ulcerations, may be a result of vessel damage. Tissue damage and ulceration may be exacerbated even further from increased inflammation and the upregulation of inflammatory markers because of the SARC-CoV-2 virus.
There are also case reports cited in the literature, showing that confirmed COVID-19-positive patients with oral ulcerations are suspected to have been caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
6. Why this is a concerning sign
Yes, all these mentioned above are very concerning. The risks of such lasting issues and side-effects would outrank those that already have problems including uncontrolled blood pressure, sugar levels, cancer, and immunodeficiency, leaving them even more vulnerable to the damage.
Another risk factor for dental decay from COVID-19 would be underlying dental issues. Furthermore, the poor attention people have on their dental health because of the pandemic may also make problems worse for those who are COVID-19 positive.
7. When to see your dentist
Oral pain can indicate infections, so it’s crucial to take this seriously and go to the dentist when you feel tooth pain. Other situations that require immediate care would be broken teeth and dental work.
However, during the early weeks of the pandemic, various areas mandated the restriction of non-emergency dental procedures. In response to the mandate, care providers created teledentistry services. This is a remote and virtual consultation with dental professionals such as dental implants Brisbane, which can help you know whether you can delay dental care or not
If you experience a loose tooth or dental work that’s failing, keep the affected area clean without it dislodging. You may want to insert floss around loose restorations, gently pulling it through the side so you avoid lifting any broken dental work out.
For those who have completely deboned crowns, you can sometimes recement it temporarily using over-the-counter dental cement or toothpaste. You can consult a dentist using teledentistry consultations to determine if this is a good decision, or if the dentist has another solution.
There are very few rare oral problems that indicate life-threatening emergencies. If ever you experience difficulty in breathing or swallowing or uncontrolled bleeding around or inside your mouth, you must seek emergency care immediately. The same goes for extreme pain and/or high fevers that are associated with dental problems.
Wrapping It Up
While there needs to be more research to establish a direct link between COVID-19 and oral health, it’s still crucial to care for our mouth to prevent further complications, whether in COVID-19 or other diseases. There are connections between the two which already show how important it is to take care of our teeth!
Hopefully, this article informed you of the damaging effects COVID-19 may have on your oral health. Make sure you learn more about what needs to be done to maintain good oral health and a healthy immune system to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
Do you have questions or want to share your experiences and knowledge on COVID-19 and oral health? Share them in the comments section below. I appreciate what you have to think!
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