The ADA said that it has been tracking developments of tongue and mouth issues that COVID-19 patients have experienced since early in the pandemic. Noting that oral health is an important part of overall health, the ADA said that it is continuing to examine the connection between the two as it relates to COVID-19.
Research published by the Journal of Clinical Periodontology reported that people with COVID-19 who had severe gum disease appeared at greater risk of more severe COVID-19 disease. Another study from the British Journal of Dermatology (BJD) reported on skin and tongue abnormalities found in some patients with COVID-19.
According to the American Academy of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology (AAOMP), the tongue conditions depicted in the BJD article are very common conditions and may be unrelated to COVID-19.
One condition, in which the side of the tongue has scalloped grooves, may be caused by the tongue rubbing against teeth, the ADA said. The other condition, known as “geographic tongue,” appears as red patches with white, tan, or yellow-colored borders on the surface of the tongue, the ADA said.
Geographic tongue is typically harmless and usually disappears and reappears on its own, the ADA said. But while such lesions may not be related to COVID-19, ADA researchers note they have received reports from colleagues of similar cases from patients who have had COVID-19.
The ADA, AAOMP, and American Academy of Periodontology agree there is value in additional research of oral health conditions that may be related to COVID-19 and that maintaining good oral hygiene and visiting the dentist regularly contributes to overall wellness.
The ADA encourages patients who may be concerned about their oral health to see a dentist for an evaluation and, if needed, referral to a specialist.