13 Oct Oral Health During the Pandemic
Most of us probably agree that 2020 has been a tough year. Global COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Unemployment numbers have skyrocketed. Millions are struggling to make ends meet. Consequently, for many, oral hygiene isn’t on the top of the priority list. Many people are afraid to keep their dental appointments, postponing check-ups and deep cleanings, even though these preventative measures can help you avoid serious long term health complications.
At Hicks Dental Group in Prescott, we want to remind you of the importance of regular daily oral hygiene and bi-annual dental visits—and assure you that we are implementing measures to ensure your safety in our office.
Why is maintaining good oral hygiene even more important during the pandemic?
According to British dental researchers, there may be a connection between poor dental hygiene and the severity of COVID-19 infections. Poor oral hygiene leads to the presence of harmful bacteria in the mouth. It has been known for some time that this bacteria in the mouth can increase the risk for respiratory infections like pneumonia—and now researchers are learning that there is also a link to COVID-19 infections and long term complications from the virus.
Oral Health Affects Your Whole Body
Not only could poor oral hygiene increase your chances of developing serious complications from COVID-19, it also affects your overall health. Poor oral hygiene can increase your risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Scientific research hasn’t concluded exactly why this link exists, but inflammation associated with gum disease may be responsible for the connection. In fact, according to the researchers, “those with periodontal disease are at a 25 percent raised risk of heart disease, thrice the risk of getting diabetes, and 20 percent raised risk of getting high blood pressure.” All of these conditions increase the risk of developing severe COVID-19.
Gum disease also weakens your immune system. Gum disease is an infection of the gums that your immune system must work to fight, making it less available to fight off other infections in your body.
Oral Hygiene Tips to Prevent Dental Problems During the Pandemic
The good news is that keeping up with proper oral hygiene can keep your mouth healthy and help support a strong immune system. We understand that when you are stressed, as we all are right now, oral hygiene may be one of the first things that starts slipping in your daily routine. We are here to remind you of the importance of maintaining good dental health. We cannot stress it enough! Here are some tips to ensure that your mouth stays healthy throughout the remainder of the pandemic, and beyond:
1. Brush at least twice a day.
Brush before bed and make sure you don’t consume anything other than water after brushing. Brush first thing in the morning, before breakfast, because it gets your saliva production going right away and it coats your enamel with a protective layer against any acid in your breakfast. Consider using an electric toothbrush, as these can remove more plaque and prevent gingivitis more effectively than manual brushes.
2. Floss daily.
it doesn’t matter if you floss in the morning or at night, but flossing at the same time each day can help you remember to do it daily. Don’t let difficulties stop you from performing this crucial step daily. Flossing can be hard, especially for young children and older adults with arthritis. Ready-to-use dental flossers can make flossing much easier. For a guide on proper brushing and flossing techniques, refer to our blog post from March.
3. Visit us at least twice a year.
Brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits are the most important things you can do for your oral health. Twice-yearly cleanings prevent excessive plaque buildup, which leads to gum disease. We can also assess if you do have the early warning signs of gingivitis and help you reverse it before it develops into periodontitis, which is irreversible and can lead to tooth loss, and worse.
4. Drink more water.
Water is one of the best things for your overall health, including your oral health. It cleans your mouth, neutralizes the acid on your teeth, keeps your teeth whiter, moistens your mouth and boosts saliva production, and keeps your breath fresher. We recommend swishing with water after every meal or snack and drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day. It also boosts your mood and energy, and helps with weight management.
5. Cut back on sugar.
Sugar is the food of choice for bacteria in your mouth. It gives the bacteria fuel to grow and multiply, leading to plaque buildup, which causes cavities and gum disease. Sugar doesn’t only mean things like baked goods, soda, and candy, however. Other foods like bread, beans, fruit, and potatoes also contain sugars that cause bacteria to stick to your teeth. Food and drinks high in acid, even sugar-free sodas, contribute to tooth decay as well—the acid can break down the enamel coating that protects your teeth. Frequent snacking during the day also increases your chances of developing tooth decay. On top of all this, sugar actually weakens the immune system. Avoiding sugar is one of the best things you can do for your immune system.
6. Take care of your tongue.
Believe it or not, plaque can build up on your tongue. This can cause bad breath as well as oral health problems. Be sure to brush your tongue after brushing your teeth. Tongue scraping is even more effective at keeping your tongue clean.
Give us a Call
At Hicks Dental Group in Prescott, we believe that prevention is the best medicine. Staying on top of your daily oral hygiene routine and up to date with your twice-yearly dental appointments are the best ways to prevent dental complications and other serious health issues down the road, including COVID-19. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment. Let us know if you have any concerns or need to discuss financing options. We are here to help. Your health and wellbeing is our top priority.