Scientists and healthcare professionals are building a strong case, with plenty of evidence to back it up. Oral health, especially gum (or periodontal) disease is linked to chronic diseases like stroke, heart disease and diabetes. Studies have even shown that poor oral health in pregnant women can be linked to premature births and low birth weight.
Yet, how exactly has COVID-19 impacted oral health? Those studies are in their infancy and scientists are just beginning to grasp oral health implications from the pandemic.
Still, one study utilized radiological examination to assess if oral damage contributed to the contraction of COVID-19.
As Medical News Today summarizes: “The study notes that the mouth can act as an entry point for SARS-CoV-2 because cells in the tongue, gums, and teeth have angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2). This is the protein receptor that allows the virus to enter cells.In those with poor oral health, the presence of ACE2 receptors appears to be higher.”
Good personal and oral hygiene does rank high on the list of good practices for disease prevention.
So, the increase in oral diseases during the pandemic may eventually, at least partially, be traced to the virus itself and may also be linked to lifestyle factors.
Scientists are also figuring out if the increase in chipped teeth during the pandemic is linked to the coronavirus itself or if it is simply a matter of increased anxiety from a global pandemic, supported by other factors like poor posture.
“According to the American Dental Association, dentists have noted a 59% increase in teeth grinding, or bruxism, and a 53% increase in chipped and cracked teeth since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to Medical News Today.
Bruxism or the clenching and grinding of teeth is an involuntary behaviour commonly associated with stress, thus anxiety and bad posture can cause people to increase jaw clenching and tooth grinding. All that additional pressure weakens the teeth and makes them more likely to crack.
Interestingly, people who are in acute care for COVID-19 and who require ventilators have a host of oral complications, including chipped teeth.
According to the Canadian Dental Association only your dentist “has the skills, training and expertise to provide a comprehensive diagnosis about your oral health condition, and to advise you on appropriate treatment and care.” Your dentist can help you establish preventative visits as well as a routine of daily cleaning habits. Oral health is a team effort between you and your dentist. To come up with a game plan for your oral health, you should contact the best Ottawa dentist.
In the meantime, the Canadian Dental Association provides these tips for a healthy mouth: See your dentist regularly for professional cleaning and proper exams that can help you suss out any issues early on. Eat and drink well – good nutrition is also good for your teeth and gums. Check your mouth for signs of gum disease like bleeding when you brush or dental floss. Also check for signs of oral cancer like sores, patches or small lumps. Limit alcohol and avoid all forms of tobacco, including vaping and smokeless tobacco. Also, keep that mouth of yours clean by brushing your teeth twice a day and by flossing everyday.