Keep on smiling
At this current time access to dental treatment is more limited and in most cases restricted to emergency cases and supporting some of our most vulnerable groups to access urgent or emergency dental care. With this in mind there has never been a better time to protect that smile and follow preventative dental and oral hygiene routines and considerations to maintain healthy teeth for all the family.
Gum infections or dental abscesses can run down your immune system, so looking after your teeth at this present time has never been so important to keep your body’s defences strong against Coronavirus.
Tips for positive oral health during Coronavirus:
Preventing spread of coronavirus:
- Always wash hands before brushing your teeth
As oral hygiene routines involves touching the face and mouth, it is important to ensure good hand hygiene before brushing or caring for your teeth. Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Watch the NHS washing your hands video.
- Don’t share toothbrushes
Toothbrushes harbour a lot of germs and are a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, so therefore no matter how close your family member, it is advisable to never share toothbrushes to avoid spread of these germs.
- Change toothbrushes regularly
As mentioned toothbrushes can harbour a lot of germs, so it is essential to change your toothbrush on a regular basis, ideally every 3 months or earlier if the bristles become frayed. Also if you have had the coronavirus or suspect you may have – change your toothbrush.
- Store toothbrushes individually and upright to air dry
Avoid toothbrush covers as they limit the toothbrush head to dry and can cause increased germ build up. Store your toothbrush stood upright to air dry, but remember to leave it separate and not touching other toothbrush heads to limit the spread of germs.
- Toilet lid down
Many of us have sinks close to toilets. Keep this in mind; when flushing put the toilet lid down to avoid faecal particles spreading to toothbrushes or soap dispensers.
- Clean the bathroom regularly – especially high touch surfaces such as; door handles, taps, sinks, light switches and toilet areas.
Maintaining good oral hygiene to prevent need for treatment during the current time:
- Don’t forget the basics!!
With daily routines changing and for most contact with others limited, amidst the Coronavirus it can be easy to neglect some of our normal personal hygiene routines.
So, don’t forget those simple day-to-day habits for a healthy mouth.
Brush teeth twice daily for TWO minutes with a fluoride containing toothpaste (fluoride content at least 1000ppm) – one occasion being last thing at night before bed.
- Children under eight years of age – brushing should be supervised and use of appropriate toothpaste amounts / requirements.
- Children under three years of age – use a smear amount of fluoride toothpaste
- Children over three years of age – use a pea sized amount of toothpaste
See further NHS information around caring for children’s teeth with useful visual images of toothpaste amounts and ways to make brushing a bit more fun i.e. Brush DJ 2 minute timer app
After brushing spit out any excess toothpaste in the sink – Don’t swill your mouth out with water at the end of brushing as this will wash away the remaining fluoride toothpaste on your teeth and reduce the preventative action of brushing.
- Limit sugary food and drinks to a minimum
Plaque bacteria use sugars to create acid that in turn attacks the tooth enamel, if sugary items are eaten frequently throughout the day, acid can build up and attack the tooth enamel if not enough time between sugary drinks or snacks is given for the saliva to repair or break down the impact on the tooth enamel.
Why not check out the Change4Life Sugar Smart app designed to let you know quickly how much sugar is in some of the things you may be regularly buying and help to inform healthier choices. Also further details about sugar and making healthier choices are available on the Change4life webpage
- Keep hydrated
Keeping hydrated is essential for oral health and our general health too. Water and milk options are best for our oral health. Try to avoid having drinks high in sugar such as; fizzy drinks, fruit juices or energy drinks too frequently throughout the day.
- Avoid Smoking – Go for the #QuitforCovid
Reducing or stopping smoking altogether can improve your health in many ways by reducing your chances of heart disease, cancers and lung and respiratory problems. It can also help to reduce the severity of Coronavirus symptoms if you contracted the virus and help prevent oral health problems such as gum disease and oral cancers too!
Help to stop is still available locally during this current time from the Healthy Lifestyle Service that are providing support over the telephone – rather than face to face and you’re up to four times more likely to make a successful quit attempt if you receive specialist support along the way. They can help you build a plan to quit and set a quit date that works for you, discuss options to support a quit attempt such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), and provide hints and tips on remaining Smokefree.
Further accessible support options are available on-line to provide the best chances of a successful quit during Covid-19. Check out the #QuitforCovid resources for further information and how to access more remote support options.
How to access dental care in an emergency
With access to dental care being limited at the present time and in most cases restricted to emergency cases. If you feel you have an urgent dental care situation which you require advice or support with; the current process to access support is to:
- During normal working hours – contact your usual dentist for a telephone consultation and triage – they can advise on care for your individual situation and advise if you need to access emergency care.
- If your dentist is closed or you’re not currently registered with a dentist. Contact NHS 111 by accessing their website 111. NHS.uk or calling 111
- Your local pharmacist may also be able to support with appropriate over the counter products for pain relief or advice on temporary home-care options.
Further sources of information:
- Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust Community Dental Website features a PDF with home-care guidance on managing toothache
- British Association of Community Dentistry (BASCD) – Advice for the Public
- BASCD – Looking after you, your family and all your smiles. A simple, short video on caring for your teeth
- BASCD – How to access dental care in England during the coronavirus pandemic – guidance on who to contact and how to access URGENT care or advice in England
- BASCD – Breastfeeding during the coronavirus pandemic, weaning and oral health
Other sites of interest: