As we settle into the new normal of being stuck at home day in and day out, lots of us have taken to cleaning up our skin and hair care regimens so that once we are allowed back into the world, we can step outside better than before. However, not everyone has given a ton of thought into refreshing their oral care habits as well. It’s easy to get caught in the same old dental hygiene practices because, let’s face it, buying a new toothbrush just doesn’t have the same appeal as buying a new moisturizer. Don’t let yourself get caught up in that idea though because keeping your mouth clean is more important than ever at the moment.
Dentists are currently limiting procedures to only dental emergencies including facial swelling, excessive bleeding that won’t stop, a broken or lost tooth, dental trauma leading to lost consciousness or severe nausea, or an unmanageable toothache that affects sleeping and/or eating. With this in mind, you’ll want to take the necessary steps to ensure that you avoid creating dental problems as you won’t be able to seek treatment for the time being.
So while you’re working on cleaning up your hair and skincare routines, here are some ways you can fix up your oral care routine as well so you can avoid dental issues and improve your overall dental care practices. That way your first post-quarantine dental check-up goes off without a hitch.
Replace your toothbrush
Your toothbrush can be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria which is, yes, harmful for your teeth if not replaced, but it’s also the last thing you want around during a pandemic. You typically should replace your toothbrush once every three months for the sake of keeping built-up bacteria far from your mouth and ensuring that the bristles are not frayed and ineffective. For extra preventative measures during COVID-19, consider replacing it once or twice a month since it could be getting a hold of outside germs if you’re not careful. Think about it: you come home from the grocery store and wash your hands at the bathroom sink, and your toothbrush is nearby ready to latch on to germs. This isn’t ideal, so stock up on a couple of toothbrushes or toothbrush heads, and swap them out throughout quarantine.
While you’re being cautious about transferring germs, you’ll also want to avoid sharing things like floss and toothpaste with family members or roommates. Bacteria can linger at the tip of the toothpaste tube and on floss packaging, and right now we want to try to be as careful as possible when it comes to transferring germs, so it’s best to have all of your own dental hygiene products.
Switch to a new and improved toothpaste
Many kinds of toothpaste contain harmful ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, and artificial sweeteners and colors as well as mint flavor which is a common allergen. These can all lead to canker sores, rashes around the mouth, and inflammation. If you want to stay on the safe side, now is an ideal time to switch to a more gentle, natural toothpaste free of those ingredients to help prevent irritation and avoid the need for a dentist.
Create new healthy habits
If you’re reworking your personal care and hygiene habits, then take the extra bit of time to introduce immensely beneficial dental habits into your routine. If you’re not already flossing at least once a day or using a tongue scraper to clear bacteria from your tongue, start developing those habits now.
Flossing will help prevent cavities between teeth and gingivitis, and using a tongue cleaner will clear built-up bacteria on the tongue that can lead to bad breath. It’s said that it takes 28 days to develop a new habit, and while we’re stuck in quarantine for at least a few more weeks, and we’re focusing on ourselves more than ever, now is the perfect time to make those positive changes.
Make sure you’re brushing properly
While you’re creating new dental habits, make sure you brush up (pun intended) on the old ones as well. It’s easy to run on autopilot whilst brushing your teeth which can lead to careless brushing that isn’t as thorough as it should be.
Brush for at least two minutes, moving your toothbrush in circular motions on each tooth and around your gums, and ensure that you are reaching the back of your teeth, including those hard to reach molars.
Throw in an extra brush
Brushing twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed, is the basis of proper oral hygiene to prevent plaque build-up and tooth decay. Now that you're spending all your time at home, it doesn’t hurt to throw in a third brush if you eat something particularly sugary or sticky during the day.
Limit potentially harmful foods
That being said, it’s best to limit your intake of sugary and sticky foods in general. Sugary beverages like soda and sticky sugars like chewy candies can linger on your teeth and cause decay. Like everything else, these foods are fine in moderation, but overdoing it will most likely lead to damage, and while dental services are limited, you won’t be able to go in for a cleaning or to get a cavity filled so keep sugar intake to a minimum.
It’s also in your best interest to stay away from hard, crunchy things like hard candies and ice which can lead to a cracked or lost tooth. Foods like popcorn that can get stuck between teeth and in your gums are also dangerous as they can lead to inflammation and infection. Your goal during this time is to avoid the dentist, and keeping watch over what you eat is the best way to ensure you won’t have any sort of dental complication, whether it is an emergency or not.
Hear more about what Cleure founder, Dr. Flora Stay has to say about dental emergencies during COVID-19 in the video below.