The COVID-19 virus has affected many industries drastically, from retail to hospitality services and health-care-related practices. Many have had to adjust to the regulations set by authorities, from washing hands regularly, the social distancing of 6 feet minimum, and wearing a mask at all times.
The field of dentistry and oral health care is no exception, especially with the nature of its procedures. Unfortunately, this pandemic has led to many missed or canceled dental appointments in fear of contracting the virus. Most dentists only take emergency cases at the moment, so it is up to the patient to observe proper oral health care at home.
How COVID-19 impacted the field of dentistry
COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets and aerosols, which are commonly produced in most dental procedures like dental cleaning and restorations. There are also no known dental procedures that allow the dentist to not be in close proximity to the patient.
Dental professionals already practice infection control to a degree in typical dental setups even before the pandemic hit. Many exercise personal protective equipment (PPE) and contamination control in their everyday practice. However, dentists have had to reinforce their infection control and prevention protocols to minimize risk for both patients and professionals with the pandemic.
With new variants of the virus coming to surface and the number of cases rising, it is almost undetectable how fast it can spread. Therefore, most dentists limit their patients to severe cases that need to be overlooked as soon as possible, like knocked-out teeth, chipped or broken teeth or prosthesis, and even extreme tooth sensitivity.
Due to the limitations set to keep infection at bay, people have to keep their teeth and gingiva healthy and clean at home as best they can until these restrictions are lifted.
Keeping good oral hygiene is important
Like any other area in your body, the mouth has an ecosystem of microorganisms thriving on its surfaces. It is home to both good and bad bacteria that can grab the opportunity to cause disease when it sees the chance to do so. We keep the bacteria from doing harm by doing hygienic practices like brushing and flossing.
Without these practices, these harmful bacteria take over and cause tooth decay and periodontal diseases.
A simple tooth cavity can affect all age groups and develop into more significant, severe problems like gum diseases or even lead to unwanted tooth removals. It may even affect your overall health and overlap with other health problems like diabetes, pregnancy complications, bacterial infections, and heart disease.
This is why it is essential to exercise good oral care every day. When you keep your oral health in top shape, you avoid diseases that can affect your daily life in the long run.
Take care of your teeth and gingiva at home
The first step to taking care of your oral health care journey is to eat a balanced diet and to avoid sugary or starchy food. The diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and whole grains.
Sugary and starchy foods stick to the surface of your teeth more. This makes for great food for bacteria to feast on, creating a layer of bacteria on your teeth. If you can’t avoid these foods in your diet, you must always have your toothbrush and dental floss ready to clean them away.
Be aware of habits like biting hard objects or crunching on hard snacks and ice, as this can chip or even break a tooth. Don’t use your teeth as tools to open bottles or even packages. You can avoid emergency visits to the dentist or even the hospital by minimizing possible trauma to the face and jaw.
It is also vital to brush your teeth with the correct technique at least two times a day. It is commended to use a soft-bristled brush to not wear away at the tooth. It is also good to use toothpaste with fluoride since this is a substance that can put minerals back into your teeth, as the bacteria has mineral-depleting capabilities, which lead to tooth cavities.
Brushing your teeth could not be enough to reach the small crevices between teeth. Use dental floss at least once a day to remove any debris stuck between your teeth. This technique prevents the formation of dental plaque and calculus, which may need a dental cleaning session with the dentist to remove.
If you’re going for extra protection, opt to use an antimicrobial mouthwash. It can help fight bad breath, dry mouth, and even intraoral infections like thrush. Some may even contain fluoride; an ingredient discussed earlier which makes the teeth stronger. It should be noted that mouthwash can also cause irritation due to the alcohol in some mouth rinses.
Dentists help minimize the spread of the virus by only accepting emergency visits, so it is the patient’s responsibility to keep their gums and teeth clean and healthy at home. If you think the situation cannot be handled at home, feel free to contact your dentist to work out an appointment.
Maintaining optimum oral health and hygiene at home can be quickly done in different ways. The main takeaways on how to keep good oral care at home are:
When patients take great care of their oral health, there’s less chance of scheduling a dental appointment, especially when staying safe at home is a top priority—limiting exposure limits the possibility of contracting the virus. When we all do our part, we can see the horizon over these trying times sooner.