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Decoding Long Covid: A Dentist Explains Why Recovered Patients Must Take Care of Teeth, Gums

·1-min read
Decoding Long COVID
Decoding Long COVID

As we reach what seems to be the end of the deadly second wave of Covid-19 in India, several recovering patients stare at a long haul of dealing with persisting symptoms — now being defined as ‘long Covid’ by doctors. In light of the situation, News18 will run a 15-day series ‘Decoding Long Covid ‘where doctors with different specializations will address concerns, recommend ways to deal with them, and suggest when to seek help.

In today’s column Dr Gunaseelan Rajan, medical director at Rajan Dental Institute and president of The Chennai Dental Research Foundation, explains how ignoring dental hygiene post-recovery can harm oral health and why bleeding gums and loose teeth can be signs of a deeper underlying issue.

In an interview with News18, Dr Rajan said that the Covid-19 pandemic had instilled fear of dentistry in people since most dental procedures are high-risk procedures. In addition, it requires close contact with the patients, thereby amplifying the risk of contracting the virus.

Also Read — Decoding Long Covid: An Oncologist Explains How Persisting Covid Symptoms Delay Cancer Care

“Therefore, many patients who are experiencing dental issues post-Covid recovery have stalled visiting a dentist. If patients continue to wait out, even the seemingly simple ulcers or lumps can turn cancerous when ignored for months. Moreover, one of the deadliest after-effects of Covid – mucormycosis (black fungus) – can prove to be fatal if not treated aggressively in the initial stages. I have personally seen two cases where patients missed the initial signs of black fungus and therefore the recovery was difficult,” said Rajan.

“Black fungus, as far as post-recovery dental manifestation goes, can be varied. The patients can experience anything from loose teeth, ulcers to jaw bone exposure and bleeding gums,” pointed out the doctor.

The doctor said that the first step to address dental issues after Covid recovery was to maintain good dental hygiene. “For example, brushing teeth before going to bed at night, flossing etc. Using 1 per cent povidone-iodine mouthwash thrice a day during Covid disease and continuing for a month later is also important,” recommended Rajan.

Maintaining gum health was also important, the doctor said. “Gum health should be kept at an optimum level since poor gum health worsens diabetes significantly. Therefore, regular checks with the dentist and consistent ultrasonic scaling are essential. Most importantly, do not ignore the sudden onset of signs such as discolouration, gum pain or toothache etc, as they too can be signs of black fungus,” he said.

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