In the summer of last year, a report on three different case studies of coronavirus infection showed the virus is able to cause a number of oral symptoms including blistering and ulcers along with discoloration in the tongue, which was later called ‘COVID-19’ tongue. However, these signs have not been added to official lists of known coronavirus symptoms by any major health agencies. Now, doctors in the United Kingdom are urging health organizations to include the symptom as it is becoming more common.
According to statistics on symptoms of coronavirus, one in five patients has unusual signs of the infection instead of the common ones. For instance, skin rashes, headaches, and body pain have been associated with the virus before but people are usually not aware of this, which makes them think they do not have the infection.
As a result, they continue their everyday lives and potentially spread the virus to others around them. Though there is a lack of investigation on transmission through lesser-known signs, they could be a major contributor, as said by health experts. This why the genetic epidemiologist at King’s College in the UK, Professor Tim Spector has urged people to stay at home even when having strange signs.
Last Wednesday, Professor Spector also shared a photo of a coronavirus patient’s tongue covered in discoloration and white patches to emphasize the unusual signs of the infection on the social media platform Twitter. In addition, he also wrote that since the COVID-19 tongue is not a part of Public Health England’s official coronavirus symptoms list, many people do not link it back to the virus.
By doing so, they are at a higher risk of complications as the infection may worsen over time. Secondly, they also put others around them at risk of contracting the virus. Since oral symptoms are becoming common than they were last year, it may be a good idea to add them to the lists so that people are aware of them.
Additionally, this may also help in controlling the virus spread as people will self-isolate and take preventive measures on time when realizing they have the infection. Though these signs are not new and have been detected long ago during earlier days of the pandemic, the effects of coronavirus on oral health are not clear.
A pre-print paper which is still being peer-reviewed is the only one that has looked at the impact of the virus on oral health and concluded that SARS-CoV-2 may infect the mouth of a person directly. In their investigation, the researchers reported finding the virus in the mucosa in the mouth along with the salivary glands of the patients.
Other than this, there have been a few cases of coronavirus patients experiencing toothaches or tooth loss after having the infection. However, dental experts do not associate the virus with tooth loss as there is no scientific evidence. More factors need to be considered before linking SARS-CoV-2 with dental problems and tooth loss.