What you should know about ‘COVID Tongue’

Poway and Rancho Bernardo, CA

It’s been about a year since COVID-19 was discovered, and researchers are still learning a lot about this deadly virus. Remember when losing one’s ability to taste or smell was thought of as an unlikely symptom of COVID? Now, it’s one of the main signs that someone is sick with the coronavirus. One of the latest strange symptoms of the coronavirus is what researchers are calling “COVID tongue.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a laundry list of COVID symptoms, with 35% of COVID sufferers experiencing non-classic symptoms, including COVID tongue. Today on the blog, a family dentist in Poway, Dr. Nicol Cook, shares what you should know about COVID tongue.

What is COVID tongue?


covid tongue

COVID tongue is classified as tongue enlargement, discoloration, or other oral problems. Dentists are seeing an increase in patients with unexplained mouth sores, and oral ulcers, according to Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College in London. Patients that experience COVID tongue note that the tongue feels “furry,” and it may appear yellow or white, although the discoloration or furry feeling cannot be brushed away. In some instances, the tongue may appear scalloped, and the condition may be uncomfortable or painful.

According to the British Journal of Dermatology, another recent study conducted in Spain included 666 patients with COVID-19.

Results revealed that more than a tenth (78) experienced oral cavity findings:

  • 11% exhibited small bumps on their tongue
  • 6% had swollen and inflamed tongue that was scalloped on the sides
  • 6% had oral ulcers
  • 4% had patchy areas on the tongue
  • 4% had oral tissue inflammation

The American Dental Association (ADA) has been keeping up with COVID findings since the virus first emerged. The British Journal of Dermatology study reinforces the ADA’s statement that “oral health is an important and vital part of overall health, and the ADA is continuing to examine the connection between the two as it relates to COVID-19,” according to one statement released by the association.

Being aware of COVID tongue is an excellent reminder that COVID has a wide range of symptoms that aren’t always hallmark signs of the disease. While it’s too soon to add COVID tongue to the official list of symptoms, it’s important to note that if you’re feeling unwell, fatigued, or have a headache, you should get a COVID test and remain at home until you get your results. However, these findings remind us all how vital routine dental cleanings and checkups are for our overall health. Many other diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, show warning signs that may be picked up on during a routine dental visit. In many cases, dentists are the first to notice these oral health changes related to serious health problems.

Dr. Cook recommends sticking to your routine dental checkups and cleanings at least once every six months. However, if you’ve recently become sick, have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or exhibit any other commonly related symptom of COVID, please contact our office to reschedule your appointment. Otherwise, healthy individuals are encouraged not to skip dental appointments during the pandemic.

General Dentist in Poway, and Rancho Bernardo, California

Dr. Cook is a family dentist serving Poway and Rancho Bernardo. We take COVID protocols seriously, which is why we take these steps to protect our employees and patients. Whether you need routine dental care or require an emergency dentist, Smiles by Dr. Cook can help. Contact our office today or call (858) 673-0141 to schedule an appointment.

How are we managing COVID-19?  Read our safety practice policy.

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