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Study Shows How SARS-CoV-2 Infects Cells in Mouth, Possibly Leading to Oral Symptoms

March 30, 2021
by ADA


A study examining the role of the oral cavity in SARS-CoV-2 infection has found evidence the virus infects cells in the mouth, which could explain why some patients with COVID-19 experience taste loss, dry mouth and blistering. The research also found that saliva is infectious, indicating the mouth may play a part in transmitting the virus deeper into the body or to others.

“After months of collaboration, our study shows that the mouth is a route of infection as well as an incubator for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19,” said Kevin M. Byrd, D.D.S., Ph.D., one of the lead researchers and the ADA Science and Research Institute’s Anthony R. Volpe Research Scholar. “This foundational work will help direct our next studies to further understand at the molecular level why individuals are presenting with altered/loss of taste and dry mouth after infection during COVID-19, why some individuals are demonstrating these effects six-plus months after the first infection, and if/how we can come up with treatment strategies to help these individuals recover.”

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