Dentists were thought to be some of the most high-risk workers for contracting Covid-19 when this pandemic began due to the nature of their work and constant exposure to individuals mouths/germs, however, studies have shown in the US less than 1% of dentists have tested positive for the coronavirus since June.
According to Professor Damien Walmsley, a scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, dentists have always had to have a strict and rigorous sterilizing routine due to the intimacy of their occupation, so if anything they were more than prepared to continue working as this pandemic progressed.
For many, however, regardless of how safe it may be, it’s just easier to wait for the pandemic to be over before going and having a doctor up close and personal with your mouth. If you’re an individual who isn’t comfortable going to get their annual cleaning due to the pandemic, there’s still plenty you can do for your oral health at home to maintain proper hygiene and teeth care.
According to Walmsley, “the majority of dental problems are preventable” if you stick to a good routine. Brushing your teeth in the morning and at night for two minutes each time is generally enough to prevent things like gum disease, plaque build up, tooth decay, and more. However, on average people only brush their teeth for 43 seconds both times, which is not nearly enough.
“Four minutes a day is not a lot to ask,” says Dr Nigel Carter, the chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation. Carter recommends using a toothpaste with fluoride, regardless of the brand, as it works to slow down the progression of tooth decay and prevent it in the future. He also thinks that all the “natural” toothpastes that are appearing on the market aren’t as effective in actually cleaning your teeth and mouth.
Wamsley claims that what you brush with (electric or manual) doesn’t matter either, as long as you’re actually brushing for two minutes both times. It’s recommended that everyone should also replace their toothbrush every three months, but unfortunately many people forget to do this. The same way you need to replace a loofah in the shower, or razorhead when you shave you need to update your toothbrushes.
Beyond just brushing it’s recommended that everyone flosses regularly. This is obviously easier said than done for many of us, however, alternatives like water pik devices and smaller hand-held flossers make it easy to thoroughly clean the spaces between our teeth. Nyree Whitley, a group clinical director for the dental care provider mydentist, recently spoke with the media about other things we can do from home to promote proper oral hygiene.
“Being conscious of what you’re eating and when is also vital for a healthy mouth.”
Whitley recommends limiting alcohol and sugar intake, as it can really break down the enamel. Additionally, she says if your gums start bleeding after brushing and flossing more vigorously, don’t be scared or put off. “It’s not an indication you’re brushing too hard: it probably means you haven’t been brushing well enough. The bleeding indicates some level of gum disease, and will probably stop as your gums become healthier.”
As we all continue to wait out the rest of this pandemic, it’s important that we take care of ourselves in all aspects of life. Continue to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes a day so that when this is finally all over you won’t get those judgemental glares from your dentist.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.