Sunday , January 17 2021

Their teeth fell out. Was that another consequence of KOVID-19?

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Earlier this month, Farah Kemili let out an evergreen mint breath and noticed a strange sensation: her lower tooth was waving her tongue. Camille, 43, of Warhisville, New York, has never lost an adult tooth. She touched the tooth to confirm that it was loose, initially thinking the problem might be minted. The next day, the tooth flew out of her mouth and entered her hand. There was no blood or pain. Camille survived a match with KOVID-19 this spring and joined the Internet support group because he suffered from many symptoms experienced by many other “long haul” carriers: brain fog, muscle aches and nerve pain. There is still no hard evidence that infection can lead to tooth loss or related problems. But among members of her support group, she found others who also described tooth decay, as well as sensitive gums and teeth that turn gray or break. She and other survivors annoyed by the well-documented effects of KOVID on the circulatory system, as well as symptoms such as swollen fingers and hair loss, also suspect tooth loss. But some dentists, citing a lack of data, are skeptical that only KOVID-19 can cause dental symptoms. “It is extremely rare for teeth to literally fall out of their sockets,” said Dr. David Okano, a periodontist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. But existing dental problems could be exacerbated by KOVID-19, he added, especially as patients recover from acute infections and struggle with its long-term effects. And some experts say doctors and dentists should be open to such opportunities, especially since more than 47% of adults 30 years of age or older have some form of periodontal disease, including infections and inflammation of the gums and bones surrounding the teeth, according to report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2012. “We are now beginning to examine some of the confusing and sometimes disabling symptoms that patients suffer from months after recovering from KOVID, including these reports of dental problems and tooth loss,” said Dr. William W. Lee, president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, a non-profit organization that studies vascular health and disease. As Camille became more committed to her dental care, she had a history of dental problems before contracting the coronavirus. When she went to the dentist the day after the tooth came out, he found that her gums were not infected, but there was significant bone loss from smoking. He referred Camille to a specialist to deal with the reconstruction. The dental procedure will probably only cost her a shy $ 50,000. The same day that K’s camel tooth fell out, her partner went to Survivor Corp, a Facebook page for people living through COVID-19. There, he discovered that Diana Berent, the site’s founder, reported that her 12-year-old son had lost one of his adult teeth a few months after he had a mild case of COVID-19. (Unlike Camille, Berent’s son had normal, healthy teeth without underlying disease, according to his orthodontist.) Others in the Facebook group reported teeth falling out without bleeding. One woman lost a tooth while eating ice cream. Eileen Luciano of Edison, New Yorkers, had a top molar pop in early November clearing a thread. “It was the last thing I thought would happen, my teeth would fall out,” Luciano said. It is unusual for teeth to fall out without any blood, Lee said, suggesting there may be something happening to the blood vessels in the gums. The new coronavirus is wreaking havoc by binding to the ACE2 protein, which is ubiquitous in the human body. It is found not only in the lungs but also in nerve and endothelial cells. Therefore, Lee said, the virus may have damaged the blood vessels that keep teeth alive in KOVID-19 survivors; it may also explain why those who have lost their teeth do not feel pain. It is also possible for a widespread immune response, known as a cytokine storm, to manifest in the mouth. “If the KOVID long carrier reaction is in the mouth, it’s a defense mechanism against the virus,” said Dr. Michael Scherer, a prosthodontist in Sonora, California. Other inflammatory health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, he said, also correlate with gum disease in the same patients. “Gum disease is very sensitive to hyperinflammatory reactions and long KOVID transporters certainly fall into that category,” Scherer said. Dentists have not seen many of these cases, and some reject these individual claims. But doctors like Lee say the surprises of KOVID-19 require the profession to look for unexpected consequences of the disease. “Patients can make new discoveries,” he said, and doctors and dentists need to work together to understand the effects of long-term KOVID-19 on teeth. For now, Camille hopes her story can serve as a cautionary tale. If people do not take proper precautions to protect themselves from the coronavirus, “they could see something like this.”

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© 2019 New York Times News Service

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