The onset of a pandemic has given us a lot to consider when it comes to COVID-19 and our health. One aspect that you may not be familiar with is how the novel coronavirus impacts oral health.
Individuals who contract the virus, whether asymptomatic or otherwise, have a lot on their mind without considering their oral health. But there’s a trickle-down effect that can cause tooth damage, and the more you know, the more you can protect your oral and overall health!
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are quite a few symptoms of COVID-19, but a cough, a sore throat, and shortness of breath. These symptoms in particular can lead to oral health issues or exacerbations of existing problems.
A persistent cough can lead to dry mouth, which on its own can seem insignificant. The trouble with this is the lack of saliva in the mouth that serves as a moistening and cleaning agent prevents cavity-causing bacteria from being washed away. This lack of saliva not only makes it easier food debris stays in lodged in the teeth, but it also makes us more vulnerable to gum disease.
Dry mouth can also lead to a sore throat or make an existing one worse. Most people use cough drops and syrups to alleviate sore throats and coughs. What many don’t stop to consider is what exactly is in their go-to remedy prior to seeking quick relief. Many cough drops and syrups contain sugar to mask the taste of the medicine. Although this makes them tastier, it also introduces an additional avenue for tooth decay into the mix. When left on teeth, sugar can begin to eat away at the enamel, increasing our risk for cavities.
The good news is that we can mitigate the use of cough drops and syrups by brushing our teeth. If you don’t have time, rinse your mouth out with water after. Many brands produce sugar-free options, which provide the medicinal purpose without the added sugar.
Inhalers are another solution for coughs and shortness of breath. Many folks have a rescue inhaler. But did you know that failing to clean your mouth after using an inhaler can lead to oral health implications such as oral thrush? Symptoms of oral thrush include an unpleasant taste or even the loss of taste altogether, a burning sensation, redness inside, and even white patches.
Just like with cough drops and syrups, it’s important to brush your teeth after use or, at a minimum, to rinse your mouth out with water. This will help remove the leftover medicine.
While none of these oral health implications are life threatening, they can develop into worse issues if left untreated. Once you’ve properly handled your coronavirus situation, if you’re still concerned about your oral health, reach out to your dentist to discuss your health history and your options for treatment.
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