Ways to Maintain Good Oral Health While Dental Offices are Closed

May 5, 2020

thompson-shereceChicago Dental Society member Dr. Sherece Thompson has put together some recommendations for patients to maintain good oral health practices between dental visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. This list covers everything from brushing to nutrition and hydration, as well as insight on what patients can expect while visiting the dentist if they are experiencing a dental emergency.

Brushing & Oral Care

Protect Your Teeth

The foundation of good oral care is brushing and flossing two to three times a day. Dr. Thompson recommends:

  • use a fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash to provide as much protection to the tooth enamel as possible. Think of this as providing vitamins for your teeth.
  • use a mouth rinse that is non-alcohol based. A mouth rinse that contains alcohol can dry the mouth, leading to cavities. If you only have an alcohol-based mouth rinse on hand, consider diluting it with water before rinsing. An antiseptic non-alcohol mouth can be made by mixing one-part hydrogen peroxide (3% concentration commonly available at drug stores) with two parts water. Gargle for 60 seconds.

Caring for Dentures

Patients who wear partial or complete dentures should take the proper steps to keep their mouths clean and bacteria free. An at-home formula to clean partial or complete dentures can be made by mixing 1/4 cup bleach with 1/3 cup of water. Do not soak them in the bleach solution and definitely do not swallow. The dentures should be rinsed thoroughly and often with water or mouth rinse before wearing. This can be repeated two times per week. It’s also important that patients rinse their mouth and dentures after every meal and use only a pea-sized amount of adhesive in several areas when applying adhesive.

Nutrition & Staying Hydrated

Be Mindful of Snacking

Dr. Thompson knows we may be snacking more than usual while we are staying safe at home. She recommends limiting the frequency of between-meal snacks, especially those high in fructose, sucrose or those containing high levels of corn syrup like sodas, juices, and hydration drinks. If you crave a bowl of ice cream or bag of chips, she recommends adding them to a meal to limit the potential for cavities. If you do find yourself frequently snacking between meals, consider brushing more often. Staying Hydrated Drinking more water will also help wash away any particles left over from your snacks and to balance the PH levels in your mouth, which will help avoid cavities and minimize plaque. If you don’t prefer plain water, consider adding in oranges, lemon wedges or sliced cucumbers to jazz up your water to make it more flavorful. Staying hydrated is essential to maintaining a healthy mouth as well.

Toothbrush Storage Tips

When to Replace Your Toothbrush

According to the CDC, cold and flu season can last until late May. For patients recently ill with the common cold, flu, or sinus infection, Dr. Thompson recommends changing your toothbrush or brush head when the patient has fully recovered. She recommends replacing brush heads every three months or sooner if bristles begin to look worn. Another reminder is to let your toothbrush dry completely before storing it in a dark or closed space, and to keep your toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible to eliminate the potential for germs or bacteria.

Patients Seeking Emergency Procedures

What to Expect

Patients’ health and safety is the top priority for all CDS dentists, who are carefully working to address patient emergencies right now. Dr. Thompson said many CDS dentists are scheduling tele-dentistry video calls and questionnaires to help provide care to patients in pain. Any patient who in need of an emergency visit should expect extra precautions, such as being asked to wait in their car, to wear a mask and to have their temperature taken. Patients experiencing swelling, bleeding or inflamed gums, are unable to eat or chew, have a broken tooth, have dentures causing irritation in the mouth or a possible infection in their mouth should call their dentist immediately.

For more information as it relates to dental appointments and coronavirus, please visit the COVID-19 page on the American Dental Association website.