You must remember that oral health is part of your overall health and well-being. It greatly affects the quality of life, for example, certain oral disorders can indicate or lead to heart disorders, diseases of gums and teeth can make it difficult for a person to chew and eat well which can, in turn, lead to compromised nutrition. That is why it is vital to pay attention to your oral health.
Oral conditions that can develop in persons of any age group may affect children and continue throughout their lives if not treated. Early prevention can be reversed or arrested with proper oral hygiene and treatment. Recently, it has come to light that COVID-19 could be linked to failing oral health. Doctors and researchers have been studying the many effects of COVID-19 and there could be a connection between COVID-19 and oral health.
What is the link between oral health and COVID-19?
Oral health and COVID-19 are intricately linked and each influences the other-
It has been found that it is common for COVID-19 patients to experience a lost or altered sense of taste, weakened gums, dry mouth, tooth decay and mouth sores which lasts for long, even when other symptoms disappear.
Moreover, there remains an increased chance that bacteria from the mouth will travel to the lungs. This may increase the risk of developing a bacterial infection in addition to COVID-19.
Stress is another factor and it is bad for oral health. The mental struggle that you are enduring during the pandemic can make you ignore your oral health. As a result, cracked, chipped teeth and minor gum infections are becoming common and you must pay heed to it.
For this reason, oral health issues have risen to a great extent among people who are trying to manage other disorders because they are likely to put off routine dental checkups because they are too busy dealing with one illness and are scared of complicating matters by contracting COVID-19.
Oral concerns that are on the rise due to the pandemic:
Gingivitis is a condition where your gums are inflamed, turn red, swollen and even cause bad breath and leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Poor oral hygiene leads to dental plaque. Having COVID-19 may cause weakness and make a person less likely to practice good oral hygiene and this increases the risk of gingivitis.
2. Dry mouth
Dry mouth is an early and most common symptom of COVID-19 infection. It increases the risk of tooth decay. It occurs when there is not enough saliva in your mouth to wash off the food particles and play its protective role. COVID-19 and dry mouth are related because it is assumed that the virus can also affect the salivary glands.
3. Oral ulcers
Like other viral infections, SARS-CoV-2 impairs your immune system and makes you more prone to other secondary conditions. Oral ulcers develop as a white patch on the tongue, gums or roof of the mouth, it is painful, causes discomfort while eating and drinking along with a burning sensation. Stress and gastric problems due to COVID infection can also be a reason for ulcers.
4. Cracked teeth
Dentists have noticed an increase in teeth grinding and chipped, cracked teeth since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of anxiety and poor posture from staying at home, these problems arise. Involuntary behaviours like clenching jaws and grinding teeth are common and have also occurred in people with severe COVID-19.
5. Black fungus and white fungus
Treatment of COVID infection may require some medicines which may suppress your immunity. Along with this, if a person does not follow good oral hygiene measures or has other comorbid conditions, he/she may be susceptible to opportunistic infections like black and white fungus. They affect many parts of your body including the oral cavity. Any unusual symptoms like pain, swelling, loosening of teeth, white or black coloured deposition on tongue or cheeks during or post COVID should be reported to the doctor without delay. If not treated promptly, the black fungus can have life-threatening consequences.
What can you do for better dental care?
Untreated dental problems and poor dental hygiene can be potentially threatening. They may even lead to heart attack and pose a serious risk because of their association with COVID-19. It is advised to practice good oral health, proper diet and medication as part of both post COVID care as well as means to minimize your risk of contracting severe COVID-19.
While not everybody who gets COVID-19 will suffer from the same problems, following good oral care can save you from serious dental health issues. Management and prevention of oral problems during COVID-19:
Prevention is better than cure
During these times, make sure you follow good oral hygiene practices. It is very important to-
- Brush twice daily
- Clean your tongue properly
- Rinse your mouth after every meal
- Avoid very sweet or sticky food, soda, alcohol and tobacco
Know the early signs
If you notice any of the following signs and symptoms-
- Bleeding gums
- Food lodgment between teeth
- Bad breath
- A cavity or black spots on teeth
- Pain or sensitivity in teeth
- Swelling, redness in gums
- Sudden pain, swelling or mobility in any tooth
Consult a dental surgeon immediately to prevent the worsening of the condition.
Many patients may be hesitant to visit a dentist during the pandemic. Communication and clarity are critical. Speak to your dentist about the safety protocols and clear your doubts regarding the safety of the procedure and associated risks.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us all to embrace a virtual way of living. Teledentistry supports the delivery of oral health services through electronic media and connects dental surgeons to patients when stepping out is not an option. Initial consultations can be done through this mode and can help in minimising the number of visits to the clinic. It is necessary for urgent or emergency care.
Proper oral hygiene maintenance and healthy eating habits can go a long way to improve your dental health. Visit your dentist from time to time for routine checkups and quit tobacco and alcohol. This will not only keep your teeth and gums healthy but also keep you safe from severe symptoms of COVID-19.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.