Why Does Covid-19 Affect the Mouth?
The virus that causes Covid-19 (SARS‐CoV‐2) is an RNA virus that can affect the oral cavity including loss of taste, sore throat, dry mouth, inflamed gums, swollen tongue, tongue discoloration, and mouth ulcers. The reason why the structures of the mouth can be affected by Covid-19 is because the virus uses the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE 2) receptor to enter into the cells of the mouth and these receptors are found all over the tissues of the oral cavity. These receptors are found in abundance in the togue, gums, salivary glands, tonsils, and floor of the mouth. A new term was developed because of the Covid-19 pandemic known as Covid Tongue. Studies suggest that of all the problems Covid-19 causes in soft tissue, 25% of those are in the mouth and out of those 50% affect the tongue.
What does Covid Tongue look like?
Typical tongue problems known as “Covid tongue” can include
- Loss or altered taste
- White/red “patches”
- Petechiae (little red blisters)
- Whitish coating over the tongue
What Other Diseases Can Covid Tongue Be?
Because Covid-19 can cause a decrease in immunity it can allow opportunistic infections caused by other virus, bacteria, and fungus in the oral cavity to cause disease. due to immune-compromise caused by Covid-19, stress, medications, and/or other related immunosuppressive factors. Because of this immunity depletion Covid-19 problems can look like other diseases that take advantage of a low immune system such as aphthous stomatitis, herpetiform lesions, candidiasis, vasculitis, Kawasaki‐like lesions, erythema migrans‐like lesions, geographic tongue, mucositis, necrotizing periodontal disease, angina bullosa‐like lesions, angular cheilitis, and burning mouth syndrome
How can Covid-19 Tongue be Treated?
- First step of treatment of these problems attributed to “Covid tongue” is to diagnose exactly what is going on via a biopsy and/or DNA analysis from swab or saliva
- Success has been demonstrated treating these lesions with ointments or rinses consisting of neomycin, nystatin, and triamcinolone acetonide (Kenacort) with an application of three times a day. Compounded rinses containing nystatin, metronidazole, and essential oils have also been used.
- Because Covid-19 can affect salivary quantity and quality, rinses addressing oral dryness and inflammation such as StellaLife VEGA oral rinse can reduce symptoms and quicken recovery.
- As with any disease affecting the tongue a full array of vitamins including Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B9, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and Zinc should be considered pathologies affecting the tongue.
If you would like more information on this topic please contact us the office of Dr. Scott Froum