Background: Oral manifestations and lesions could adversely impact the quality of people's lives. COVID-19 infection may interact with smoking and the impact on oral manifestations is yet to be discovered.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the self-reported presence of oral lesions by COVID-19-infected young adults and the differences in the association between oral lesions and COVID-19 infection in smokers and non-smokers.

Methods: This cross-sectional multi-country study recruited 18-to-23-year-old adults. A validated questionnaire was used to collect data on COVID-19-infection status, smoking and the presence of oral lesions (dry mouth, change in taste, and others) using an online platform. Multi-level logistic regression was used to assess the associations between the oral lesions and COVID-19 infection; the modifying effect of smoking on the associations.

Results: Data was available from 5,342 respondents from 43 countries. Of these, 8.1% reported COVID-19-infection, 42.7% had oral manifestations and 12.3% were smokers. A significantly greater percentage of participants with COVID-19-infection reported dry mouth and change in taste than non-infected participants. Dry mouth (11.1% vs 7.5%, p = 0.009) and change in taste (11.5% vs 2.7%, p < 0.001) were greater in COVID-19 infected than non-infected persons. The association between COVID-19-infection and dry mouth was stronger among smokers than non-smokers (AOR = 1.26 and 1.03, p = 0.09) while the association with change in taste was stronger among non-smokers (AOR = 1.22 and 1.13, p = 0.86).

Conclusion: Dry mouth and changed taste may be used as an indicator for COVID-19 infection in low COVID-19-testing environments. Smoking may modify the association between some oral lesions and COVID-19-infection.

Cite as

Tantawi, M., Sabbagh, H., Alkhateeb, N., Quritum, M., Abourdan, J., Qureshi, N., Qureshi, S., Hamoud, A., Mahmoud, N., Odeh, R., Al-Khanati, N., Jaber, R., Balkhoyor, A., Shabi, M., Folayan, M., Gomaa, N., Nahdi, R., Mahmoud, N., Wazziki, H., Alnaas, M., Samodien, B., Mahmoud, R., Assab, N., Saad, S., Al-Hachim, S., Alshaikh, A. & Abdelaziz, W. 2022, 'Oral manifestations in young adults infected with COVID-19 and impact of smoking: a multi-country cross-sectional study', PeerJ, 10, article no: e13555. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.13555

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Last updated: 22 August 2022
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