Dry Mouth the Most Common Oral Symptom for COVID Patients

biometric dentistry in Denver

At our biometric dentistry in Denver, Dr. McGinty helps to educate her patients on the connection that exists between their oral health and overall health. Decades worth of research has found compelling evidence that shows patients with poor oral health have a significantly higher risk for developing a range of chronic illnesses that include heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.

Considering this connection, it’s not surprising that a new study has found that COVID-19 can impact a patient’s oral health. Over 40 percent of patients with COVID experienced dry mouth, according to a review recently published in the Journal of Dental Research. The study examined the prevalence of oral symptoms linked with a COVID infection. Patients also commonly reported experiencing problems with taste and oral lesions.

The review was a six-month follow-up to previously released research that examined the prevalence of oral symptoms in COVID-19 cases. In an examination of approximately 65,000 COVID-19 patients, dry mouth, loss or change of taste, and the development of oral sores were often sufficient signs pointing towards a COVID infection.

“The prevalence of oral signs and symptoms and whether they result in direct COVID infection or merely represent secondary manifestations are paramount,” wrote researchers from the University of Brasilia Department of Dentistry.  

Oral Health Symptoms Could Signal COVID Infection

Building off the initial systematic review conducted in 2020, the new report examined potential oral health issues related to COVID-19. The updated report assessed the original 40 primary studies included in the initial review, as well as another 143 new studies that were published in the first-half of 2021. The number of patients examined with the new research expanded the overall scope of the study from just over 10,000 patients to over 64,000.

Dry mouth was the most commonly reported oral health symptom identified with COVID-19, occurring in 43 percent of patients. Dry mouth was a new symptom identified by the research team and replaced altered taste as the most commonly reported oral symptom.

While taste disorders were no longer the primary oral health symptom, they were still very common among COVID patients. A total of 38 percent of patients experienced a taste disorder, and researchers found significant evidence to link a change in taste to a positive COVID test.

How frequently patients reported a change to their ability to taste varied based on location, ranging from 14 percent in Africa to nearly 50 percent in Europe. Researchers hypothesized that local inflammatory response and the effect of certain drugs were possible reasons for the noted difference.

Among reported changes to taste, hypogeusia, or a diminishing in the ability to taste, was reported in 34 percent of patients. This was followed by dysgeusia, or a change in how something tastes, which affected 33 percent of patients. Approximately 26 percent of patients reported a complete loss of taste.

While many of the patients reported oral sores, the presence of lesions may suggest an impaired immune response rather than a direct symptom of COVID.

“The reanalysis of current evidence suggests that a loss of taste and taste dysfunction were common manifestations in patients with COVID,” wrote the research team.

Protecting Your Health

By gaining a better understanding of how COVID impacts oral health, patients can hopefully spot the early signs of the disease before potentially exposing others in their community to a COVID infection.

At our biometric dentistry in Denver, Dr. McGinty has taken steps to help ensure that patients and her staff remain healthy and free of worry over any COVID exposure. If patients experience a sudden loss of taste or dry mouth prior to an appointment, we ask that they take every precaution to ensure they remain COVID-free before arriving at our biometric dentistry in Denver.

By knowing the early signs of COVID, we can all work together to help stop the spread of the disease so that our community, and communities everywhere, can stay healthy and continue moving towards a more normal existence.