According to the Centers for Disease Control, social distancing is one of the most important parts of fighting the spread of COVID-19. While we’re sheltering in place, it’s important to continue good personal healthcare practices, including oral hygiene.
The COVID-19 pandemic is keeping the majority of us at home until further notice. Quarantine and social distancing are forcing many people to cancel their routine health check-ups, including their annual dental examinations.
Fortunately, there are ways to take extra good care of your teeth while you’re stuck at home during shelter-in-place orders.
The human mouth is naturally full of bacteria. Some of these bacteria is good, and some--like the bacteria generated from eating sugary foods are bad.
Over time, the bad bacteria mixes with your saliva and proteins in your mouth to form a sticky substance called plaque. Bacteria in dental plaque can penetrate almost any surface in your mouth. It can get under your gum line, penetrate fillings and even get through crowns.
Once the plaque is under your gum line, it becomes much harder to remove through simple brushing. Plaque that isn’t removed from the teeth with brushing and flossing eventually hardens into a rough, porous substance called tartar.
Once tartar builds up on the teeth and gum line, it cannot be removed with normal brushing and flossing; only a dental professional using special tools can remove it. The longer you go without having it removed, the greater your risk of developing bad breath, gingivitis, gum recession, and gum disease.
Because plaque turns into tartar without good oral hygiene, it is vital that you remove plaque from your teeth daily. This can be accomplished with thorough brushing and flossing.
Plaque and tartar production in the mouth are accelerated by certain foods, namely sugars and carbohydrates.
Soda, fruit juices, candy, and even some fruits coat the teeth in sugar. If you don’t brush your teeth thoroughly after eating these foods, you leave a sugar paste on your teeth that will inevitably turn into plaque. Brushing thoroughly will control plaque buildup and prevent tartar formation.
Water helps lubricate the mouth, fights bad breath, and prevents the buildup of plaque by washing sugars off the teeth after eating.
If you aren’t drinking enough water, you may be allowing excess plaque to form on your teeth.
Aim to drink at least a few ounces of water every time you eat. This will help control the amount of food left on the teeth after eating.
It’s important to maintain excellent dental hygiene standards, especially during the coronavirus outbreak. This is because many dentists and dental offices are only seeing patients on an emergency basis. Many of us will have to wait to get a dental exam and cleaning until the pandemic is over.
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