Readers ask, we answer:
Can a change in smell or taste harm my oral health?

Yes, a change or loss in smell or taste can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy smile. Though there are several reasons for an altered sense of smell or taste, these conditions have become more common as a symptom of COVID-19.



Dysgeusia is a change in taste


Ageusia is the loss of taste.


Parosmia is a change in smell.


Anosmia is the loss smell.


Loss of taste and smell

People often lose their sense of taste and smell months after other symptoms of COVID-19 subside. Most people who lose their sense of smell because of COVID-19 will also lose their sense of taste and vice versa. This loss may last a few weeks but usually returns to normal.

Change in taste and smell

If you have previously lost your taste and smell, you are at increased risk of parosmia — a disorder where some or all things suddenly smell horrible, making it difficult to eat most foods.

There’s no treatment for parosmia that happens due to COVID-19 and unfortunately, it can last for months. Thankfully, the damaged cells that control smell and taste can grow back, so the sense of smell can return to normal.

One survey reported almost 11% of people who’ve had COVID-19 developed parosmia.1

The effects on your health

These conditions — especially parosmia — can lead to:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Depression

People with these issues may not get the vitamins and minerals needed to keep teeth strong. It may also become difficult to tolerate the taste of mint toothpaste.

If you develop any of these conditions:

  • Attempt to find foods you are able to consume. Bland foods that haven’t been heated may work best.

  • You may still be able to keep your healthy smile in mind. Some people have had success trying mouth-friendly frozen fruit, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and unflavored protein drinks.

  • Try a different flavor of toothpaste. If that doesn’t work, talk to your dentist, who can recommend alternative products to clean your teeth.

  • Visit your physician to discuss the best ways to get the nutrition needed for a healthy body and smile.

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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