In response to the global pandemic of COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus, the American Dental Association has asked all dentists to suspend non-urgent dental appointments for the foreseeable future. This means that you might be going longer between check-ups than in the past.
While not ideal, this can be managed without significant problems for a while. However, it’s going to require greater diligence with your home hygiene routine. Here are some key places in your routine to evaluate to make sure you’re doing everything you can to avoid problems.
Are You Brushing Long Enough?
At least half of all Americans don’t brush their teeth for long enough. You should brush your teeth for at least two minutes.
One side effect of the pandemic is that we now have so many humorous guides to washing your hands for twenty seconds, that it’s easy to adapt them to timing your toothbrushing. Just pick your favorite twenty second guide and repeat it six times to make sure you’ve brushed your teeth long enough. Or, if you prefer, choose six different guides. The point is to make sure that you’re spending the full two minutes brushing.
And make sure that you’re brushing all the areas in your mouth. While most people are good at brushing their front teeth (incisors), many neglect the backs of teeth. Make sure you are getting the backs of your teeth, the area closest to your tongue.
Brushing More Often
Another way to improve your oral hygiene routine is to brush your teeth more often. If you’re only brushing once a day, add a second toothbrushing in the morning.
You can even brush your teeth after every meal if you like. These additional brushings should be done with a dry brush–don’t use toothpaste. In addition, don’t brush your teeth immediately after consuming highly acidic foods and beverages.
If you don’t want to brush your teeth every time you eat, try to structure meals so you end with a crispy vegetable that can act to help clean your teeth, then rinse with water.
Or you can add chewing sugar-free gum to your routine. This helps clean your teeth and protect them.
Evaluating Your Flossing
Hopefully, you floss every day. If not, now’s the time to start.
Plus, you should evaluate your flossing tool. If flossing is hard, uncomfortable, or ineffective for you, it might be the type of floss you’re using. Teflon floss is great for tight teeth, but it’s slippery and might not be best for you. Flossers are convenient, but they might not reach all the places in your mouth that you need.
There is some evidence (but not a lot) that water flossers and interdental brushes might work better for cleaning between your teeth. If you don’t feel you can get your mouth really clean with dental floss, it might be time to switch.
Give Up Bad Habits
Bad habits can also put your teeth at risk, so it’s a good idea to try to quit some bad habits that put your teeth at risk, including:
- Smokeless tobacco
- Chewing on nonfoods (like pencils, pens, and fingernails)
- Chewing on ice
But we also understand that during the middle of a global pandemic might not be the best time to try to give up some of these habits that might be your go-to in times of stress.
An Ounce of Prevention . . .
Re-evaluating your home hygiene routine and habits can help you avoid many problems that may come up. However, if you do have an emergency or urgent care need, we can still help. Please call (314) 375-5353 and we can help you take care of your dental needs.