The COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown have hit oral health in more ways than one. But, it has not been talked about much. Of course, we have bigger things to worry about.
Do remember that all dentists have postponed elective procedures and will carry out only emergency interventions until further notice. So, here are 10 simple tips to keep your teeth in good health.
- Brush properly: Brush your teeth for three minutes in the morning and before going to bed. Use a toothbrush with a flexible handle; soft or medium-bristled ones preferred. Always use cream type toothpaste; the gel variety is more abrasive. Use vibratory strokes in an upward to downward motion for your upper teeth and vice versa for the lower set. Focus on three teeth at a time.
- Refrain from using fingernails, toothpicks and safety pins to remove food lodged between the teeth. Use dental floss and interdental brushes.
- Avoid mouthwashes, unless prescribed by a dentist. They are known to cause chemical burns.
- Do not forget your tongue! To avoid bad breath, clean your tongue once daily with your toothbrush. Avoid stainless steel tongue cleaners as they may damage your taste buds.
- Those with toothaches, swelling and ulcers, and those bleeding from the gums should contact a dentist. Avoid self-medication.
- Use antibiotics only when prescribed by a dentist. Antibiotic resistance is a clear and present danger. Never use antibiotics from leftover strips.
- Clean removable dental appliances and dentures with cleansing tablets or solutions. Ensure that they are disinfected every day.
- The stress during lockdown can lead to problems such as ulcers, dry mouth and jaw joint problems due to grinding of the teeth or gum diseases. If it is worrying you, do contact a dentist. Most importantly, avoid stress.
- Always keep your toothbrush at least six feet away from your toilet. Make sure insects and lizards cannot reach your brush. Rinse the brush with lukewarm water before use.
- Eat a balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. Do daily workouts of 30 minutes. Get your daily quota of sunlight. Sleep well. Avoid smoking and limit your alcohol intake.
The writer is convenor of the council for dental health and awareness, Indian Dental Association, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala