Poor oral hygiene is considered a high-risk factor for COVID-19 comorbidities, particularly for those suffering from diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular diseases. In fact, some recent studies have suggested that maintaining good oral hygiene can help mitigate the disease. Here are a few things you can do to maintain your oral health, especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Good Oral Care Practices During COVID-19
Let’s take a look at the dos and don’ts of oral care routine that could make a difference to our overall health.
- Brush, Floss & Rinse
Since many of us are working at home, there is a natural tendency to snack throughout the day. Be mindful of what you are eating and keep a check on the quantity. The consumption of high-calorie and sugary foods can wear down your tooth enamel. Hence, proper brushing and flossing between meals is a must.
If you’re busy, at least do a quick floss to remove residual food particles from your teeth and gum line. Aside from brushing twice a day (morning and before bedtime), you can also use mouthwash, or rinse with warm saline water. Massage your gums using a clean finger to improve blood circulation.
Also, clean your tongue with a tongue cleaner to get rid of plaque and bacteria buildup. Avoid using a toothpick to remove food particles between teeth as it could harm your gums and cause infection. Instead, try brushing and flossing.
- Wash Your Hands
We already know the importance of frequent and thorough hand-washing to avoid contracting and spreading the virus. You should also aim to clean your hands with soap and water prior to brushing or flossing to reduce the number of bacteria entering your mouth.
- Never Share Your Toothbrush
Forgetting your toothbrush during a socially-distanced stay at a friend’s place (which is not recommended) or accidentally using your partner’s toothbrush could be hazardous to your health. Using someone else’s toothbrush exposes your teeth and gums to new bacteria and viruses. The bacteria in your mouth are unique to you and introducing new germs can cause you to catch a cold, flu or other infections. A weakened immune system puts you at an increased risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. This is the same reason why sharing a space with your partner for storing your toothbrush and toiletries is a bad idea.
- Change Your Toothbrush Regularly
Ideally, you should change your toothbrush every three months, or sooner if the bristles have worn out.
For instance, braces may fray bristles more quickly and hence the toothbrush needs replacing more often. Doing so prevents germ buildup and infections, and ensures complete oral hygiene.
If circumstances warrant, you may need to change your toothbrush even if the bristles are not worn out. Some of these situations include:
- After contracting a cold or flu
- If you’ve recently had a mouth or throat infection
- If you had a mouth ulcer such as a canker sore
- If you have bleeding or sore gums
If you’ve recently recovered from the flu or any other illness, not changing your toothbrush can cause you to relapse.
- Stay Hydrated & Eat Healthy
Your diet and lifestyle play a big role in your health. Poor diet, lack of exercise and inadequate hydration can make you more prone to illness.
Especially during this pandemic, it’s crucial to have a balanced, nutritious diet that’s rich in protein and vitamin C. Avoid consuming raw foods like uncooked meat or vegetables, or runny eggs. Boil and cook everything properly before consumption. Also, avoid high-sugar foods like jams, candies and jellies that not only affect your immune system but also cause cavities.
What to Do If It’s an Emergency?
If you experience a sudden toothache, touch the area with clean fingers to try to understand the nature of the pain and its frequency. If it’s a recurring, shooting pain that’s unbearable, contact your dentist for advice. If it’s a sharp pain that occurs only when you eat something hot or cold, stop eating those items and rinse your mouth with warm saltwater. Repeat for a few days and if the pain persists, call your dentist right away. During your teleconsultation, remember to outline your medical history and any allergies.
If it’s a case of tooth or jaw fracture, visit your dentist right away but with proper precautions. Never self-medicate or give warm compression without a doctor’s advice. There are many dental clinic in Brampton, like Dentistry on Dusk, offering emergency services during the pandemic. They have proper safety measures in place, including pre-screening procedures, air purification systems, state-of-the-art equipment, PPE kits and enclosed clinic suites that meet strict government and regulatory guidelines.
By following a few simple tips, you can ensure that you and your family are making the most of your at-home oral care routine. While it’s true that COVID-19 can’t be prevented by good oral hygiene alone, ensuring dental health and oral hygiene goes a long way in strengthening your immune system and overall health.