- Published Date: 10 Mar 2021
- Updated Date: 02 Jun 2021
- Reading Time: 4 min
Growing evidence suggests a link between poor oral health and some chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. As if you didn’t have enough to worry about, there’s some possibility that COVID-19 may damage some people’s teeth as well.
There’s still much to learn about COVID-19 and its many potential health impacts. Dental issues may be one more bad side effect for a percentage of Covid sufferers.
Keep reading for a deeper look into COVID-19, dental issues, and what you can do to maintain good oral and physical health.
You know Covid-19 is a potentially deadly virus, but what else do you need to know? Coronaviruses are not new. In fact, they’ve been a known pathogen for over 50 years.
Until COVID-19, most coronaviruses were no worse than the common cold. COVID-19 is a new coronavirus, specifically, it’s the SARS-CoV-2. It’s more dangerous than previous coronaviruses.
Because it’s new, scientists don’t yet know a lot about COVID-19 and all the possible side effects. One emerging symptom for some people is dental issues.
COVID-19 is unusual in that some people with positive tests report no symptoms at all. Some of the most common symptoms of COVID-19 infection are:
- Dry cough
It’s hard knowing if what you have is COVID-19 since the symptoms are like many other common viruses. There are many other symptoms now associated with COVID-19 that affect some, but not all sufferers.
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Loss of smell
- Loss of taste
- Joint or muscle pain
- Nausea or vomiting
As with the common symptoms, these symptoms are also present with other types of viruses. The only way to know if you have COVID-19 is to take a test.
Some people suffer more severe symptoms and even end up needing hospitalization. If you think you may have Covid, be aware if your symptoms get worse and include any of the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain or chest pressure
- Prolonged high temperature
Shortness of breath or chest pain are signs you should get immediate treatment. Another problem with COVID-19 is the sometimes rapid worsening of symptoms after a patient’s had the virus for several days or a week.
COVID-19 and Dental Issues
COVID-19 can be dangerous for almost any organ system in the body. Now it appears it’s taking a toll on people’s oral health as well.
Dentists in Canada report a surge in cracked and damaged teeth they attribute to the pandemic. This is most likely due to increased clenching and grinding of the teeth due to stress. Grinding your teeth can cause cracks and even broken teeth.
Is all the damage coming from teeth grinding? It’s hard to know but some dentists think there may be more to the problem. It’s possible loose teeth and damaged gums are a side effect of the disease itself.
Another possible connection? Average or poor oral health before contracting COVID-19 may lead to worse dental issues.
In some people, the virus attacks the blood vessels. This could affect blood flow to the gums and teeth resulting in loose teeth or even teeth falling out.
Others suspect a high viral load in the mouth causes dental issues. It’s still unknown whether the virus itself is the culprit.
Still another potential tooth-damaging issue is the cytokine storm. This is when the body’s immune system overreacts in an attempt to fight the virus. This causes inflammation in the body which damages tissues such as your mouth’s gums.
Good Oral Health
The number one step in avoiding dental issues is good routine maintenance of your mouth. If you’re neglecting your teeth because you don’t have dental insurance, rethink your strategy. Good oral health saves you money in the long run.
You should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss them every night before bedtime.
Even straightening your teeth helps with good oral health. Misaligned teeth can contribute to tooth decay, poor breathing, and problems chewing. Misaligned teeth are also more prone to damage.
Do you hate the idea of a “metal mouth” for straightening your teeth? There are much better options now for aligning your teeth.
Watch Your Tongue
If you’re experiencing increased stress from the pandemic, pay attention to your posture and your tongue. Are you working from home?
If you’re hunching over a computer all day, slouching has a negative effect on your jaw. It pushes your jaw forward which sometimes causes your teeth to touch. Your teeth shouldn’t be touching except when chewing and swallowing.
Get up from your computer every hour for at least five minutes. Walk around, take some deep breaths, and reach down and touch your toes.
If you’re able, use a sit-stand desk so you can change your posture throughout the day. Using exercise as a physical outlet for stress can also help curtail dental issues such as teeth grinding.
Good nutrition factors into good health and your teeth are no exception. Avoid processed and sugar-laden foods as much as possible.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables while avoiding sugary drinks, such as soda and juice. Get vitamin D for healthy bones, including the jaw and teeth.
A few good sources of vitamin D include:
- Egg yolks
- Vitamin-D fortified foods such as oatmeal
You can also go outside in the sun for a few minutes a day without sunscreen, but avoid a lot of unprotected sun exposure since it can lead to skin cancer.
Avoiding Dental Issues
The best way of avoiding dental issues, even as a side effect of the pandemic, is through good oral health maintenance. Follow a good oral health routine, eat right, and watch your tongue and posture.
Although aligners can’t stop teeth from falling out or discoloring, they can help straighten teeth. Well-aligned teeth reduce dental issues. Take a free assessment for Alignerco’s clear/invisible braces for a beautiful smile.
Oral Health | Healthy People 2020. (n.d.). ODPHP. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/leading-health-indicators/2020-lhi-topics/Oral-Health#1
OConnell, M. (2020, June 9). First human coronavirus isolated at UChicago more than 50 years ago. UChicago Medicine. https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/first-human-coronavirus-isolated-at-uchicago-more-than-50-years-ago
Bogart, N. (2020, September 8). “Teeth are taking a beating”: Dentists say cracked teeth are more common post-lockdown. CTV News. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/teeth-are-taking-a-beating-dentists-say-cracked-teeth-are-more-common-post-lockdown-1.5096518
InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Misaligned teeth and jaws: Overview. 2020 Jan 16. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553375/