Throughout the last year, we have all faced the unknowns of COVID. However, as time has passed, experts are learning more and more about the long term effects of COVID. Since the CDC now estimates that more than 15% of Americans have had COVID, it is time to examine the long term affects that we all could face. The CDC is still trying to determine the number of people who have long term effects after facing COVID, and part of the reason is that COV|D can affect every system in the body. So, while one person’s long term effect could be cardiovascular, another’s may be dermatological, and still another’s neurological. As I write this, there are clinics being set up around the country solely to treat the long term symptoms and try to understand more about them.
Being a dentist, I can only really discuss the effects of COVID on the mouth. I have done quite a bit of research, and the result is astonishing. There are thousands of reports of COVID affecting people’s teeth. There are many cases of people’s teeth becoming loose during, as well as, months after COVID. Even teenagers have reported their adult teeth, “falling out.” Currently, research is being done to determine the cause of this, but there are several theories.
The American Academy of Periodontology(The Gum Specialists) has reported that the tongue and oral mucosa are among the body parts that have the highest level of ACE2 receptors which are highly linked to COVID. Research indicates that these cells and their high level in the tongue, oral mucosa, and nasal mucosa are the basis for the loss of taste and smell being a common symptom of COVID. They are continuing research into these receptors to determine if tooth loss is a continuation of the virus. A study published in June 2020 by the National Institute of Health, already proved a connection between people suffering from severe cases of COVID and people with periodontal disease, but now the question is, in people who survive, does it reverse and cause more problems?
Another theory is that the cytokine storm or hyper- inflammatory reaction that we have heard so much about in regards to COVID can actually manifest in the mouth. We know that gum disease is very sensitive to hyper- inflammatory reactions, so the researchers are putting together the pieces of the puzzle that seem to show that people who already have even mild forms of gum disease can have significant worsening, or even more concerning, severe tooth issues, from the inflammatory response of the body to COVID.
We already know that 47% of people over the age of 30 have periodontal problems or gum disease. Therefore, physicians are now alerting the dental profession to be on the lookout for the long term effects of COVID. They are recommending that physicians and dentists work together with patients to really understand and, therefore, help patients with these long term and relatively unknown COVID effects. Our doctors are staying current on all the research so that we can help our patients in every way possible. Dr. Ladzinski, along with our board certified Periodontist (gum specialist) is available to help anyone who has been affected by this horrible disease. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any concerns or questions. We are all learning how to fight the COVID battle together and I know that together we will win.
Ariana Clayton, DMD
Viviana Pitones-Rubio, E.G. Chávez-Cortez, Angélica Hurtado-Camarena, Anna González-Rascón, and Nicolás Serafín-Higuera,Is periodontal disease a risk factor for severe COVID-19 illness? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC7303044/, June 2020.
US Dept of Health and Human Services. Long Term Effects of Covid. http://www.cdc.gov, November 13, 2020.
BriannaAbbott, Morethan15%ofAmericansHaveHadCovid.https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/covid-2020-11-27/ card/vNkshCuxwSGLw7zkSx4z. November 27, 2020.
Wudan Yan, Their Teeth Fell Out, Was it Another Covid-19 Consequence? https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/26/ health/covid-teeth-falling-out.html, November 28, 2020.