Oral Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Most of us are at home right now, either in quarantine or practicing social distancing… Oral health might not be at the forefront of your mind, but there are things you can do when it comes to your oral care to protect yourself and your loved ones during this pandemic.
We know that the Coronavirus can survive on surfaces, so what you do in the bathroom, how you care for your toothbrush, floss, interdental picks and brushes can provide an extra layer of protection. A healthy mouth contributes to maintaining good overall health.
Why is oral health important during the coronavirus pandemic?
During a pandemic, you want to do everything you can to optimize your immune system. Eat properly by favouring vitamin and mineral-rich foods; engage in physical activity whenever possible while respecting the distancing measures; try to get enough sleep – at least 7 hours per night; avoid stress and…take care of your oral health.
Maintaining good oral health should be part of your ‘stay healthy’ strategy during COVID-19 because a healthy mouth can positively impact your general health.
What oral care practices will help me keep healthy?
Keep your mouth fit and healthy by practicing a full mouth clean. That means brushing, cleaning between your teeth with an interdental brush, rubber pick or floss and rinsing with a mouthwash twice daily. Interdental cleaning should always be part of your oral care routine –and even more so during the pandemic. A toothbrush alone cannot clean all your tooth surfaces – if you don’t clean between your teeth, you haven’t really cleaned your entire mouth.
Find cleaning between your teeth with floss challenging? Unless you have really tight interdental spaces, give rubber interdental picks a go! Most people find them really easy to use and surprisingly delightful. For an extra sensorial experience try our GUM® SOFT-PICKS® mint-flavoured option.
When it comes to the timing of your routine, remember to be particularly disciplined in the mornings as this is when your oral cavity has the highest count of bacteria, and in the evenings before going to bed. Also, try to keep your mouth moistened as saliva plays an important role in preventing the growth of bacteria. Drinking plenty of water and massaging your salivary glands to stimulate saliva production can help with this.
Should I be doing something special with my toothbrush and interdentals?
Keeping your toothbrush and interdentals clean and changing them regularly is general good practice, recommended by dental professionals. Toothbrushes can become contaminated with microorganisms in your mouth. Studies have shown that prolonged use of a toothbrush can facilitate contamination by various microorganisms  - .
Here are a few things you can do to keep your toothbrush and interdentals in good shape and help prevent contamination:
- Keep your toothbrushes and interdentals clean by rinsing them well under water. Always allow them to dry standing – it is important that they not be left moist because bacteria thrive in moisture and heat.
- If you’re sharing a bathroom with other family members, try to keep your toothbrushes and interdentals separate from theirs, don’t store them in the same glass.
- If you suspect you or a family member has COVID-19, you should replace your toothbrush immediately and separate it from that of other family members.
- Never share a toothbrush with a family member.
- Change your toothbrush regularly. Studies have shown that prolonged use of the same toothbrush facilitates microorganism contamination . When did you last change yours? If you can’t remember, then it’s probably time…
I heard the coronavirus survives on surfaces, what does that mean for my bathroom?
Some research suggests that, although the virus may be able to live for up to three days on surfaces like plastic and steel, the risk of infection from touching these materials is relatively low.
That being said, it’s a good idea to routinely clean any high-touch surfaces, including your bathroom, which has probably been getting lots of extra use since your confinement! Household cleaners, especially bleach-based solutions and alcohol solutions of at least 70% alcohol will help you do an excellent job.
If you suspect the coronavirus is present in your home, then daily meticulous cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces becomes an absolute necessity. This includes bathroom surfaces, toilets, faucets, sinks, tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones and keyboards .
I have diabetes, is there anything I should be doing do for my oral health during this pandemic?
This period can be experienced as very stressful. There is evidence that stress can aggravate inflammatory diseases such as gum disease. This can have a negative impact on other chronic diseases, such as Diabetes Mellitus, as we explain in one of our previous blog articles. Therefore, it is important to be particularly meticulous with your oral care and stick to a healthy lifestyle as much as possible. Keep your mouth healthy by brushing, preferably with an electric toothbrush, and cleaning between your teeth with interdentals twice daily; rinse with a mouthwash a few times a day. Interdental cleaning should be a part of your oral care routine anyway, but it’s even more crucial right now as you want to keep your mouth as clean and healthy as possible.
Sticking to a healthy lifestyle to keep stress levels down is also very important at a time like this. Indeed, stress is one of many factors linked to gum disease. We’re aware staying relaxed might be easier to say than do … but there a few things you can do! Try to stay active and move your body as much as possible, while of course respecting distancing measures. Walk up and down the stairs, use a skipping rope… the possibilities are endless if you’re willing to get creative! Making time to unwind and relax your thoughts is also important. Practice a hobby you enjoy or even take up a new one (reading, music, painting, meditation…). If you’re prone to anxiety and stress, you might want to refrain from reading the news too often to avoid the incessant flow of negative news.
Watch our interview of Filippo Graziani, Professor of Periodontology at the University of Pisa in Italy, and Past President of the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP).
Avoid unnecessary dental appointments by taking good care of your oral health
Taking good care of your oral health will not only help to keep your mouth healthy and immune system fit…It’s also an easy way to avoid any non-essential appointments with your oral care practitioner and keeps him or her free to deal with emergencies!
Key takeaways on the coronavirus and oral care
- Maintaining good oral health should be part of your ‘stay healthy’ strategy during COVID 19.
- Poor oral care will not only damage your gums and teeth, it can also put your immune system under unnecessary stress.
- Regularly give your gum and teeth a ‘full’ clean: brush, clean between your teeth and rinse twice a day.
- If you have diabetes, be extra meticulous with your oral care routine, interdental cleaning in particular: brush, preferably with an electric toothbrush, and clean between your teeth twice a day; rinse a few times a day. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep stress levels low.
- Avoid unnecessary dental appointments by taking great care of your oral health at home.