The current COVID-19 crisis has consequently emphasized even more importance on good health as weaker immunity and chronic diseases have been proved to increase one’s susceptibility to the infamous virus. But more than just washing your hands, not touching your face, and observing social distancing, it’s now also more important to maintain proper oral hygiene as the mouth is one of the most common points of entry of the virus.
While it’s understandable that the restrictions brought about by the pandemic have probably limited you from making it to your much-needed trips to your dentist, don’t set aside the importance of a proper dental checkup. Now that dental care services are less restricted with non-emergency cases, make sure that you make an appointment with your dentist at least once every six months. Most dental offices have already made changes to their services and facilities to comply with the new health and safety standards, like the Crescent Park Dental, which has made it easier and more convenient for patients to set up appointments and avail their services.
If you still find it challenging to get to your dentist, there are ways to help maintain your oral health at home. But first, here’s why you should make your oral health a priority too:
Good Oral Health May Help Prevent A Severe COVID-19 Case
Recent studies, including one research published in the British Dental Journal and one in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, show that maintaining good oral health may help in preventing a severe case of COVID-19. Professor Roland Frankenberger, president of the German Society of Dentistry and Oral Medicine, stressed that oral health care may strengthen the immunity of the virus’s point of entry, which may be through the mouth, nose, and eyes.
It’s reported that 80% of the patients who suffered a severe case of COVID-19 had an exceptionally high level of bacterial load. According to Frankenberger, a healthy mouth may act as a barrier against disease-causing microorganisms and other diseases like periodontitis that may cause severe cases of COVID-19.
Usually, your body’s natural defenses and your oral health care routine like brushing your teeth daily and flossing are enough to keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene and leaving potential oral health issues untreated, these bacteria may reach levels of oral infections like tooth decay and gum disease, which will make you more susceptible to the virus.
A 2020 study from Japan indicates that good oral hygiene may remove viral acid in the mouth and subsequently improve the accuracy of COVID-19 tests. It may also decrease the number of viruses replicated and released into the individual’s surroundings.
Other than an increased susceptibility to COVID-19, poor oral hygiene may also contribute to other diseases and conditions such as:
- Endocarditis. This is an infection in the inner lining of the chambers of your heart (endocardium) which usually happens when bacteria or germs from other parts of your body, such as the mouth, spread through blood flow and then settle in certain areas of your heart.
- Cardiovascular disease (CVD). Cardiovascular disease is a general term used to describe conditions that affect the blood vessels or heart. Although the connection between this disease and poor oral health is not yet fully understood, some researchers suggest that oral bacteria may cause heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke.
- Pneumonia. This condition is characterized by inflamed alveoli or air sacs of the lungs due to an infection. Fluid or pus may fill up the air sacs as a result. It was reported that certain bacteria in your mouth may be pulled into your lungs which may lead to pneumonia and other respiratory problems.
Oral Hygiene Tips
It’s very important to practice good oral hygiene not just to prevent common dental problems but also to prevent a severe case of COVID-19 infection. Here are a few more helpful tips for taking care of your oral health:
- Keep Your Toothbrush Clean
Keeping your toothbrush clean is one of the most important steps to good oral hygiene. It helps prevent microorganisms on your toothbrush from multiplying and spreading. The coronavirus may take up to three days to stay on a surface, and that includes your toothbrush.
You can disinfect your toothbrush by rinsing it with a 0.5% hydrogen peroxide solution, which can kill COVID-19 bacteria in about one minute. Do this after every use. If you don’t have hydrogen peroxide, you can also disinfect your toothbrush by rinsing it thoroughly with hot water for a few minutes.
- Replace Your Toothbrush Often
It’s recommended to replace your toothbrush every three to four months. If you suspect that you have coronavirus, replace your toothbrush immediately and separate it from the other toothbrushes in your home, especially if you share the same bathroom.
- Store Your Toothbrush Properly
Always allow your toothbrush to dry after each use before you return the cover and put it away. Moist objects are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
How To Maintain Good Oral Health Habits At Home
- If the dental offices in your area only take emergency patients or life-threatening dental conditions, it’s likely that you won’t be having your regular dental appointments anytime soon, which makes it even more important that you take steps to maintain good oral hygiene at home. It may also help prevent potential issues that require urgent dental care. Brush your teeth between meals or at least twice daily. This will prevent bacteria from building up, which may lead to a higher risk of tooth decay and other gum diseases.
- Floss your teeth to remove food particles that your toothbrush can’t get rid of.
- Make sure to use toothpaste with fluoride as it may also reduce the risk of tooth decay.
- If your dentist recommended a care plan for you and you need a follow-up, call your dentist first as they may be able to give you instructions that you can just do at home.
- Avoid biting and chewing your nails. Find the right tools to open packages or crack nuts. Don’t risk damaging your teeth.
- If you smoke, convince yourself to quit. Using tobacco products or smoking cigarettes may increase the risk of many oral health problems, such as bad breath, tooth discoloration, and gum disease.
Your oral health is a good indicator of your overall health. If you neglect it, it’ll eventually affect the rest of your body and make you prone to more illnesses. So, if you’re planning a ‘stay healthy’ strategy in the current pandemic, make sure to include the maintenance of your oral health as well. If you feel you need to talk to your dentist, try to contact them first to minimize your trips for issues that may be addressed at home with proper medical advice.