The mouth provides an ideal environment to harbor the virus.
The coronavirus latches onto a part of the cells called the ACE2 receptors. ACE2 receptors are especially prevalent in the lungs, which is why COVID-19 inflicts so much respiratory damage.
The mouth also has a great many ACE2 receptors, which therefore provides an environment that is conducive to hosting the virus. This may enable the virus to have a direct effect on the dental deterioration of the oral cavity, and may also enable it to travel to other organs in the body.
Dental deterioration specifically associated with COVID-19 patients is primarily associated with two factors:
- The way that Covid-19 interferes with blood flow to the vascular structure of the mouth.
- The damage that occurs to the top teeth when a patient is intubated.
Damage when Covid-19 attacks the vascular structure of the mouth:
This particular virus is known to attack blood vessels, which can lead to blood clots. When blood is not able to flow easily to the pulp of the teeth, serious damage can occur.
Dr. William Li, vascular biologist, medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, and an Instructor at Harvard Medical School, described the way Covid-19 impacts the oral structure of the mouth recently:
“Your jaw is very richly fed with blood vessels. We’ve got lots of teeth, sensitive gums, we’ve got a tongue and taste buds that need to be nurtured. The gums are extremely vascularized, and inside the tooth is the dental pulp, or the ‘living, breathing part of the tooth’ that is packed with blood vessels along with nerves,” Li said.
“The underlying vascular damage that COVID-19 wreaks on the body can persist even after the disease is gone, and over time, it can cause dental flare-ups…The fact that there is often no blood when the teeth fall out suggests blood flow was obstructed, which may have caused the teeth to deteriorate.” (Huffington Post, Julia Reis, November 16, 2020)
If a patient has been impacted by the Coronavirus, it is recommended that your family dentist conduct a thorough examination of your mouth and throat to check for any damage that may not be immediately apparent.
Repairing damage from Covid-19 intubation
Intubation is a procedure in which a tube is inserted into the throat to ensure adequate respiration when the patient is not able to properly breathe on their own.
The intubation tube has to enter the mouth, and it bends down past the larynx and trachea, and reaches down into the lungs. The shape of the intubation tube combined with the structure of the oral cavity, means that this apparatus is often pressed against the top teeth, and forcing this tube down through the mouth often chips or breaks the top teeth, particularly when this procedure is performed quickly in an emergency.
Regardless of the damage to the mouth a patient may have suffered, whether broken or chipped teeth due to intubation, or lost or discolored teeth from vascular interference that may occur from the coronavirus, a skilled prosthodontist can most likely repair the damage.
This repair may consist of bonding chipped teeth, creating crowns or bridges or by installing dental implants for more severe damage.
Dr. Keith Phillips lectures nationally and internationally, teaching other dentists and prosthodontists the latest technology in order to create the most beautiful, natural-looking smiles for patients who have suffered damage to their teeth.
The staff at Distinctive Dentistry has always practiced exceptional sanitation procedures, and they continue to exceed government-issued safety measures to treat patients — even in a pandemic.
The office is located just off the freeway in Fife, WA and serves the greater Tacoma area, including Gig Harbor, Fox Island, Puyallup and neighboring communities. There is plenty of free parking at our street-level office, and we ensure easy access for our patients who are in wheelchairs.