Routine dental care has had to take a backseat after the novel coronavirus began to wreak havoc on the nation in early 2020. While dentists are still able to treat dental emergencies, routine procedures like cleanings and examinations will have to wait until social distancing measures can be relaxed.
This will come soon for San Francisco but is leaving patients largely in charge of their own regular dental care in the meantime. Here’s how you can improve your home dental hygiene routine while it’s not possible to visit your dentist.
The Importance of Good Dental Hygiene During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Your gum health plays a significant role in your overall health. Inflammation and infection in the gums can lead to inflammation in the body through eating and swallowing. While gum disease is a threat to your health under normal circumstances, it’s even more of a concern during the coronavirus pandemic.
Early research indicates that beyond respiratory symptoms, COVID-19 can also induce inflammation, and in serious cases, an overwhelming and potentially fatal inflammatory response known as a “cytokine storm.” While it’s still too early to know if or how periodontal inflammation and the coronavirus may be linked, there’s enough information available to extrapolate that preventing gum disease and the resulting inflammation is more important now than ever before.
How to Improve Your Home Dental Hygiene Routine
Improving your home dental hygiene routine doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it may be as simple as brushing twice a day instead of once or starting to floss if you don’t floss regularly already.
Here are our top recommendations for having a healthy mouth at home:
Invest in a Sonic Toothbrush
Manual toothbrushes will do the job, but not nearly as well as an electric toothbrush. Sonic toothbrushes are even more powerful, vibrating at about 10 x the rate of an electric brush.
Think about investing in a sonic toothbrush while you’re not able to see your dentist for regular cleanings. Sonic technology helps you make sure you’re eliminating as much debris and bacteria from in between your teeth as possible, which is critical to reducing the risk of developing gum disease.
Consider Using an Irrigation Flossing System
An irrigation flossing system, also called a “water flosser,” is a great tool to help get in between the really tight crevices that even traditional floss can’t reach. It’s easier to use than floss and provides a deeper clean with a pressurized stream of water that pulsates to blast away food particles and built-up plaque.
If you have difficulty using traditional floss, have arthritis, or simply want a better clean, a water flosser can deliver.
Learn How to Floss Properly
Most people don’t floss as they should. Even if they do floss often enough, they may not be flossing properly. Make sure you’re flossing correctly at home during the coronavirus, either alone or in addition to using a water flosser.
Here’s how to floss properly with simple, traditional dental floss:
- Cut off approximately 18-24″ of floss. Wrap the majority of the floss around each of your middle fingers, leaving about 2″ of floss open for your teeth.
- Then, hold the piece of floss tight with your index fingers and thumbs.
- Push the open area of floss in between each of your teeth, pulling it up and down to rub against the sides of your teeth.
- Avoid pushing the floss up into your gums. Instead, curve the string at the base of your tooth to allow the floss to glide in between your teeth and gums.
- As you move between your teeth, unwind the floss from your middle fingers and use a clean area of floss for each tooth.
Avoid Alcohol-Based Mouthwash
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol-based mouthwash can be damaging to the delicate mucosal lining of the oral cavity. If you use mouthwash, make sure to purchase an alcohol-free brand. Look for a mouthwash that is free of dyes, chemicals, and other harmful additives.
Having a Dental Emergency? We Can Help
During the coronavirus pandemic, Green Dentistry is only able to provide emergency dental services as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). If you’re experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, you may be in need of emergency dental care:
- Severe pain that won’t subside with over-the-counter pain medicines
- Pus or drainage coming from a painful tooth
- An injury to the jaw or teeth
A graduate of the University of Southern California and the University of California’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Patel is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. As a trusted dentist, Dr. Patel provides her patients with more than just world-class dental care — she helps them recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health. She is also a ForbesBooks and Amazon best-selling author.