Have You Lost Your Taste? COVID Symptoms & Oral Health
Did you contract COVID-19 and lose your sense of taste or smell? If so, you are among 86% of COVID patients with mild to moderate symptoms that have lost one or more senses. As many of Dr. E’s patients know firsthand, losing your sense of taste is one of the earliest indicators of COVID. Do you have questions about what this means in connection with your oral health and overall wellness? We’ve got answers – check out the Q&A below!
1) Why does COVID-19 cause so many people to lose their sense of taste and smell?
One theory is that with COVID, and many other viruses, we experience increased inflammation inside the nose that contributes to impairment of olfactory cells. These neurons are responsible for transmitting information to your central nervous system. If they are not functioning properly, you experience a loss of taste and/or smell. Or, in some cases, the sense of taste isn’t gone completely but it is temporarily altered. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been found to bind to a protein that’s located on the surface of potential host cells that are prevalent in the nose and mouth. It’s possible that the virus directly invades these nerve cells but conclusive research is still underway. However, scientists believe that a loss of taste is typically a direct consequence of a loss of smell so the two often occur simultaneously.
2) When will my sense of taste return?
Will you ever be able to taste your favorite donut or pasta again? Thankfully, the answer is likely YES! While every case is different, research shows that the majority of COVID patients regain their sense of taste and smell roughly two weeks after other symptoms subside. Further, 95% of COVID victims regain their senses by 6 months. So, the good news is, while losing any of our senses may be strange, and even alarming, it is only a temporary experience for the vast majority of people who have had these common COVID symptoms.
3) How can I cope with a loss of taste or smell?
For many, the smell of coffee brewing or bacon frying awakens our senses in the morning and helps kick-start our mind and body in order to tackle the day. The sudden loss of smell or taste can understandably be jarring – and downright depressing. Imagine not being able to taste or enjoy your favorite dishes for a while! These COVID side effects can potentially impact your overall health in a variety of way — from negatively impacting mood levels to causing a weakened appetite to leading to inadequate nutrition. However, experts encourage patients with a loss of taste or smell to engage in mind over matter! They advise you to remember that this is likely a very temporary condition. Engage in mindfulness by trying to remember the taste of something while eating it. Though you may not yet be able to taste the full range of flavors, pay attention to any basic clues, such as the texture or sensation on your palate. This will help you appreciate the act of eating until your full taste buds return.
4) Will my oral health suffer?
Not if you take charge of your health! Even if you are in the midst of experiencing COVID or still recovering from lingering symptoms, it is important to maintain your dental routine. Continue to brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss regularly. While you may not be able to taste what you ingest, be sure to make healthy choices to keep up with proper nutrition. That includes drinking plenty of water and eating a balanced diet until you regain your sense of smell and taste. Even if you have been very diligent about social distancing, it is important to keep your regular dental checkups so that Dr. E and the Cosmetic & Family Dentistry team can continue to help you maintain a beautiful and healthy smile despite any challenges posed by COVID-19.
Bottom line – don’t let your oral health suffer as a result of the pandemic. While we understand that experiencing a temporary loss of taste or smell may be an unpleasant side effect of COVID, preserving your oral health is a lifetime choice we should all commit to daily — and Dr. E and her caring team are here to support patients each step of the way!
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