During these strange times, many of us are stuck at home, taking care of children, or working unusual shifts. Sticking to regular routines can help you deal with these disruptions to your daily schedule and stay healthy!
While we follow federal and state directives to remain closed except for emergencies, I wanted to take this opportunity to post some reminders on what you can do daily to keep your oral health in great shape, and ways you can prevent and treat minor dental problems at home.
Tip #1: Stick to the Basics
While everyone knows they should be brushing, it can be easy to drop healthy habits when your schedule is disrupted. It may go without saying, but always remember to brush twice a day, for 2 full minutes, especially before bedtime! Flossing daily is important too, and if you haven’t developed this habit yet, now is a great time to build it into your routine. Even a few times a week will go a long way to improving the health of your gums.
If you haven’t been using an electric toothbrush, now is a great time to invest in one. While a manual toothbrush can be sufficient with the proper technique, many studies have shown the effectiveness of several types of electric toothbrushes in greatly reducing plaque.
My personal preference for comfort and ease of use is the Sonicare line, but you don’t have to go out and pay for the fanciest model with lots of bells and whistles. The basic ProtectiveClean model is a great and inexpensive choice. Oral-B also makes excellent electric toothbrushes with many studies to back their effectiveness.
Check out this video for a review of proper brushing technique:
Tip #2: Better Snacking
Many of us are also snacking a lot more these days. Try to limit snacks that are high in sugar and carbs, especially sodas and other acidic drinks, which can sit on your teeth and cause cavities faster than other foods. If you do drink soda, rinse or drink water afterwards, and wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth in order to avoid damaging your enamel by brushing in the presence of acid.
Remember that cavity-causing bacteria require carbohydrates (including sugar) to damage your teeth. Therefore, snacks low in carbs, such as nuts and cheeses, typically cannot cause cavities, while things like crackers, candy, and potato chips definitely can. Sticky candies are the worst thing you can snack on, because they remain on your teeth and contribute to cavities for long after you are done eating. If you crave something sweet, try to find healthier alternatives, such as fruits, which have a high water content and do not typically stick on your teeth!
Tip #3: Avoiding Chipped Teeth
While dentists are doing their part by staying closed except for emergencies, you can do yours by limiting risky behavior during the pandemic. Chewing on ice and popcorn kernels should be avoided in general, but especially during these times.
If you do experience a minor chipped tooth, you may use a nail file to gently smooth out sharp edges until we are open again to complete a definitive repair. While I do not usually advise filing your own tooth, this could help you stay safely at home in these uncertain times. Of course, any broken tooth that results in exposure of a nerve or severe pain would qualify as a true emergency, so in such an event, please call our office to be seen as soon as possible!
Tip #4: Irritated Gums
Have you ever gotten something stuck between your teeth that irritated your gums and wouldn’t come out? Try tying a knot in some dental floss, then pulling it through the space between your teeth. This can often dislodge food that will not come out otherwise, and decrease irritation and inflammation of the gums.
Increased stress can also increase the occurrence of ulcers in people who are pre-disposed to them. Some patients have sensitivity to SLS (Sodium Laurel Sulfate), a common ingredient in toothpaste which can cause ulcers and irritation. Try switching to an SLS-free toothpaste such as Sensodyne Pronamel if you find that you experience these issues often!
Tip #5: Loose Crowns
A common dental problem we treat is loose crowns. If you have a crown that has come loose and come off without any pain, you may find that you are able to replace the crown yourself. Over-the-counter denture adhesive paste can be used to temporarily re-cement the crown and delay a trip to our office until we can see you for a more definitive treatment!
If you have any other questions or concerned, we are here for you! Call our office at (281) 888-1150 at any time and listen to the after-hours message to reach the emergency line. For non-emergency inquiries, please call and leave a message, or email me and a staff member or I will reach out to you promptly!
Thank you for reading and stay safe!
-Ayham Nahhas, DDS