Dental Care at Home During Social Distancing and Shelter in Place
Brushing and Flossing
Dental home care during social distancing or shelter in place is important to maintain good oral hygiene and good overall health. If you have been having good checkups, try to maintain the same routine of brushing and flossing. It’s been our experience that sometimes when people change their routine, they become lax in their dental home care. Vacations, retirement, or new babies thrown into the mix often have changes in brushing and flossing habits, that lead to gum inflammation or tooth decay.
Working From Home and Dental Care
Working at home due to social distancing can elicit a change in dietary habits. An increase in snacking and not brushing after allows more food particles to stay in the mouth, which could lead to an increase in plaque and calculus. This, in turn, could lead to inflamed gums and more cavities.
Increased access to sugary foods from the pantry (raisins, fruit roll ups, candy, gum with sugar, more sugary drinks–soda, or drinking coffee with sugars all day long) , can cause cavities in as short a time as two months. (A more sugary diet causes additional issues if you are pre-diabetic.)
The solution is two-fold: Try to limit your intake of additional sugary foods and drinks, and when you consume them, try to do so in one sitting and brush your teeth once you’ve finished.
Running out of Floss
If you run out of dental floss, there are some substitutes that can be used. Keep in mind: In most cases, flossing removes more bacteria and food particles between the teeth. Tooth picks or oral irrigators are acceptable alternatives but a word of caution with each. Tooth picks when used too aggressively between teeth can blunt back gum between the teeth causing a bigger space for food to get stuck. In upper and especially lower front teeth, twirling a toothpick in and out can cause an “hourglass shape “ at the gum on the root of the tooth. Water Piks are good for some people who cant floss at all. However, if used on a high setting, it can cause irritation. Even on a low setting, the pulsating water has the capacity to wash out cement under crowns or bridges.
One should never “recycle” floss use. Bacteria can grow on floss and be reintroduced between the teeth causing gingival inflammation. Sewing thread should never be used as a substitute for floss. There is no telling what type of bacteria is seeded on different threads. Also, skinny thread can break between the teeth and become wedged. If it gets lodged in the gum, that irritation can cause a gum abscess.
If you run out floss, continue brushing as you usually would.
Running out of Toothpaste
If you run out of toothpaste, don’t fret. Toothpaste is not necessary to remove dental plaque from your teeth. The mechanical action of the bristles on teeth and the use of dental floss, disrupts the organization of dental plaque that would lead to gum disease and cavities.
Active ingredients in toothpaste, fluoride being the main one, helps remove the bacteria that causes bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. The internet is full of at home homeopathic toothpaste that you can make. The easiest one calls for a teaspoon of baking soda and a half of teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide mixed to a paste like consistency.
Now that dental offices have reopened, it’s recommended to keep up your regularly scheduled dental cleaning to stay healthy and prevent gum disease. Our office has implemented extensive safety protocols include and beyond social distancing, PPE, HEPA filters, screening questions, text to skip the waiting room and more.