People who have recently overcome COVID-19 infection are now more prone to get the black fungus disease, but more severe complications are seen in patients with comorbidities and hospitalized individuals. Please read the article to follow the dental tips after COVID-19 in order to prevent the newly developing black fungus disease.
Black fungus infection has emerged as a threat to patients who have recently defeated COVID-19 infection. Apart from these patients, many uncontrolled diabetics and others with compromised immunity are also getting infected. Many states in India have already declared black fungus infection as an epidemic. The seriousness is due to the speed at which the infection can spread and become fatal even before anyone can realize it. Hence, it is absolutely necessary to identify the disease as early as possible so that it can be treated.
Which Fungi Causes Black Fungus Disease?
Mucormycetes fungi cause black fungus, which belongs to the class of Zygomycetes. It is commonly found in soil, filthy tanks, organic matter, and animal feces, and it cannot spread from man to man or from an animal to man.
How Does the Fungus Enter the Body?
The fungus enters the body most commonly through inhalation of spores present in the air. Other ways it enters the body are through ingestion and through direct contact via cuts in the skin.
Who Can All Get This Fungal Infection?
Patients undergoing COVID-19 treatment.
Patients who have recently recovered from COVID-19 infection.
Patients with high levels of blood sugar.
Patients undergoing steroid therapy.
Those who are hospitalized for a long period of time.
Organ transplant patients.
Can It Occur in Any Other Parts of the Body?
It can spread to other parts of the body like,
Rarely in other organs too.
How Does This Fungal Infection Spread?
The fungal infection most commonly follows a particular path of infection from beginning to end. The infection frequently starts from the mouth, spreads through the sinus to the nose and throat. Then it takes the path towards the eye and then finally perforates the skull bone to enter the brain. The total time taken for the spread from the mouth to the brain may be less than a week. Therefore, the early identification of the infection becomes extremely important.
How to Identify the Disease?
The below-mentioned are the symptoms to identify with the disease.
In the Mouth:
Black-colored gums or palate or any other part of the mouth.
Large ulcer in the palate or the gums.
Moderate to severely painful gums.
Bad odor from the mouth.
Sudden loosening of the teeth.
Discharge from the gums with a foul taste.
In the Nose:
Stuffiness of the nose.
Nasal or sinus congestion.
Black lesions on the bridge of the nose.
In the Eye:
One-sided facial swelling.
Redness of one eye.
Popping out of one eye.
Double vision or sudden loss of vision.
In the Brain:
Moderate to high fever.
What Happens to the Body Parts Which Are Affected?
Black fungus is extremely invasive and has the tendency to cause necrosis to the affected areas.
In the Mouth - A portion or the whole of the upper jaw will be lost.
At the Level of the Nose - The person may lose the inner portions of the nose and throat along with the already lost upper jaw.
At the Level of the Eye - The person may lose the eye and the associated structures along with the parts mentioned above.
At the Level of the Brain - The patient usually slips to coma, and the fatality rate is very high when this stage is reached.
What Are the Dental Tips to Be Followed to Prevent Black Fungus?
Since the disease starts in the mouth, it is obvious that taking utmost care of the mouth becomes a thing of paramount importance.
1. Maintain Oral Hygiene:
The importance of maintaining perfect oral hygiene cannot be overemphasized. Brushing twice daily and use of an antiseptic mouthwash is also a must. Flossing and the use of interdental brushes can also help prevent the accumulation of dental plaque. Limiting sugary or starchy foods will also prevent the fall of pH in the oral cavity. Drink a lot of water instead of sugar-containing juices. Frequent rinsing after every meal also helps to prevent plaque formation.
2. Avoid Dental Treatments Immediately After COVID 19 Recovery:
Any invasive dental treatment like extractions, surgeries have to be avoided immediately after recovering from COVID-19. Since the immunity has been compromised, any small insult to the oral cavity can become a starting point of infection. The healing capacity of the individual is also compromised, and hence it may take longer than usual to heal, predisposing the wound to infection. It is safe to wait at least 25 to 30 days after recovery before undergoing invasive dental procedures.
3. Changing the Toothbrush and Tongue Cleaners:
After recovering from COVID-19, it is mandatory to change the used toothbrush and tongue cleaners as they may contain germs from the previous infection. Keeping them separate from that of the other family members will also help.
4. Frequent Mouth Rinsing:
It is advised to rinse the mouth after every meal and use an antiseptic mouthwash as prescribed by the dentist. Chlorhexidine and Betadine mouthwashes are effective in containing oral infections.
5. Drink Filtered Water:
Since the fungus can be present in dirty water tanks and pipelines, it is advisable to drink filtered water. Drinking unclean water can cause the fungus to enter the body through any cuts or ulcers in the mouth.
6. Change Masks Frequently:
It is advisable to wash the cloth mask and air dry it in direct sunlight after every use. In the case of a disposable mask, it should be discarded after every use.
Is There a Vaccine for This Disease?
Still, there is no vaccine available to prevent the spread of the disease, and this particular black fungus disease cannot be diagnosed in any of the blood tests, unlike any fungal infection.
How to Prevent Getting the Infection?
The disease can be prevented by following the below instructions, they are,
a) Avoid contact with filthy areas.
b) Do not stay in a water-damaged building.
c) Avoid close contact with,
d) Wear shoes, gloves while doing gardening and agricultural activities.
e) Cover any cuts in the skin with bandages.
Black fungus disease is a serious threat in the current situation to the entire health care system. But the good news is that black fungus can be prevented by taking meticulous precautions. The key is identifying the problem early and reporting it as soon as the symptoms appear. This gives the physician a chance to control the disease and prevent a fatality. As the mouth is the primary area of infection, keeping up thorough care for the same becomes supremely important.
Last reviewed at:
08 Nov 2021 - 5 min read
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