Viruses And Oral Health: 4 Potential Problems

August 13, 2021

When you envision common causes of dental and oral problems, you probably think of tooth decay, acute dental injuries, or bacterial infections that lead to gum disease and abscessed jaws. However, viruses can cause their share of trouble as well, from nagging tooth and gum discomfort to more serious complications. The more you understand how certain viruses can threaten your oral health, the more easily you can identify such problems when they occur and seek the proper evaluation and, if necessary, treatment. Take a look at four kinds of viral issues that might spell trouble for your teeth.

1. Colds and Toothache Pain

The common cold causes a variety of unpleasant symptoms, from coughing and sneezing to a runny nose and mild fever. It can also prompt the sinus cavities in your face to swell up and retain fluid. As the fluid pressure builds, it can relay pain signals into your upper jaw. The resulting pain may feel uncannily like a toothache.

If you can’t tell whether you have a legitimate toothache, schedule an appointment with your dentist. X-rays and other diagnostic techniques can spot a cavity or infection that might require treatment. If you don’t show any signs of such damage, you can rest assured that the pain will subside when your cold finally resolves.

2. HSV-1 and Oral Inflammation

Even if you don’t suffer from cold sores yourself, you most likely know someone who does. In fact, the majority of adults carry the virus that causes cold sores, known as Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (or HSV-1), regardless of whether they actually develop the tell tale itchy, red sores on their lips.

HSV-1 can affect the inside of the mouth as well as the outside. This problem, herpetic gingivostomatitis, can cause the characteristic sores to form inside the oral cavity. It can also cause the gums to grow red, inflamed, swollen, and painful. Gingivostomatitis occurs more frequently in children, but it can affect adults as well.

Dentists can confirm a case of gingivostomatitis by testing for the presence HSV-1. The condition usually clears up without treatment within about 10 days. However, your dentist may prescribe antiviral drugs to accelerate the process. Your dentist can also recommend over-the-counter drugs to help you cope with the discomfort.

3. HPV and Oral Cancer

Another potential threat to your oral health comes from the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S., and it has over 40 different varieties. About 14 million new cases of HPV occur every year. While most of these people will never experience complications, some people face an elevated risk for oral cancer.

If you have a persistent sore throat, changes in the sound of your voice, a foreign feeling in your throat, or difficulty swallowing or using your tongue, schedule a dental evaluation. Additionally, get your kids vaccinated with the HPV vaccine before they reach the age of sexual activity to minimize their risk of getting the virus.

4. COVID-19 and Tooth or Gum Trouble

The virus broadly classified as COVID-19 has had effects on people’s health above and beyond traditional symptoms like lung problems. Sufferers have reported many other issues seemingly related to blood vessel damage in various parts of the body. Some even claim to have experienced gum issues, tooth discoloration, and tooth loss.

Although any disease that damages blood flow could theoretically cause oral health problems, medical research hasn’t found a direct link betweenCOVID-19 and tooth or gum damage, according to Medical News Today. However, many people have delayed their usual wellness exams during the pandemic, making themselves more vulnerable to such issues.

If social isolation has compelled you to put off your routine dentalcare over the past year or so, get back to that routine as soon as possible. Dental offices practice careful preventative measures to maintain a safe, sterile environment at all times.

Let Vanyo Dentistry serve as your source for dental and oral examinations and care. We can discuss your symptoms with you, check for particular oral conditions that might have viral origins, and then recommend the proper course of treatment. Contact our dental office today.