Long Covid is unlikely to be a direct cause of tooth loss and may simply be “previously fit and healthy people” not brushing their teeth as much, dentists have claimed.
An increasing number of people have been diagnosed with ‘long Covid’ since the pandemic struck, reporting distressing symptoms sometimes lasting for months.
Reports have recently emerged of some patients losing teeth after contracting the virus – with one woman from New York recounting how a tooth fell out of her mouth without any blood or pain.
However, dental experts have suggested that a more likely explanation for sudden tooth loss is illness hindering people’s rigorousness in oral hygiene.
Prof Damien Walmsley, the British Dental Association’s scientific adviser, said: “There’s no doubt that if people are struggling, anxious or possibly depressed they may be less attentive to brushing their teeth, and this will put them more at risk.
“We know that previously fit and healthy people can struggle to do the most basic tasks, such as climbing the stairs. It’s likely too that they are not as attentive to their oral hygiene, which would increase their risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.
“It is more important than ever, to clean teeth, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, before bed and on one other occasion.”
He acknowledged that long Covid is a “debilitating condition” with symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain and brain fog which should be taken very seriously.
Farah Khemili, 43, from New York, recovered from Covid-19 in the spring.
However, earlier this month she realised one of her lower teeth was wobbling. She had never lost an adult tooth before and thought it may have been caused by her chewing on a mint.
The following day, it fell out of her mouth into her hand. She felt no pain and there was no blood.
Eileen Luciano, another Covid-19 survivor from New Jersey, reported that one of her top molars popped out as she was flossing – again, there was no pain or blood.
“That was the last thing that I thought would happen,” she said.
Dr William Li, president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, a nonprofit that studies the health and disease of blood vessels, said these symptoms could suggest blood vessels in the gums are being affected by Covid-19.
He said it’s possible that the virus damages blood vessels that keep the teeth alive in Covid-19 survivors, which may explain why those who have lost their teeth felt no pain.