A lost or altered sense of taste, dry mouth and sores are common among COVID-19 patients and those symptoms may last long after others disappear, Brazilian researchers report.
Nearly 4 in 10 COVID patients experience impaired taste or total loss of taste, but dry mouth affects even more — up to 43%, according to their broad review of more than 180 published studies.
It looked at oral health symptoms in nearly 65,000 COVID patients around the world — with some predictable and also some surprising results.
“Regarding COVID-19 patients specifically, the important message is to maintain healthy oral health habits during their illness if they are able to do so,” Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a spokesman for the American Dental Association says. “Dry mouth significantly increases the risk for tooth decay, so brushing twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste, flossing once a day, limiting snacking, and avoiding sugary foods and drinks are the best ways to maintain their oral health.”
By now, most people are aware that loss of smell and taste are key symptoms of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But the research review by a team led by University of Brasilia researcher E.N.S. Guerra identified a number of variations on that theme.
Folks with COVID can have a reduced sense of taste (hypogeusia); a distorted sense of taste, in which everything tastes sweet, sour, bitter or metallic (dysgeusia); or a total loss of all taste (ageusia), according to the study.
For reasons that remain unclear, researchers found that these complications seem to be more common among European COVID patients, affecting about half. In comparison, a third of American COVID patients and a quarter of Latin American patients report the same.
Some COVID patients also reported lesions on or under their tongue or along the gums and sides of the mouth, the study found.
Hewlett says these complications are not unique to COVID-19 — and they don’t happen to everyone. It’s not clear, he adds, why some develop oral trouble while others do not, but even a mild infection may