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How to Keep Your Teeth Healthy During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Share on PinterestWith many dentist offices closed, experts say it’s more important than ever to brush properly and floss regularly. Getty Images

  • Most dentist offices are closed for routine procedures during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Dentists are urging people to brush twice a day and floss once a day to take care of their teeth.
  • They say keeping your toothbrush clean is also important for good dental health.

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Good dental hygiene might not be in the front of your mind in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That could change quickly if you develop a painful cavity and can’t get in to see a dentist.

“I understand that this isn’t the most normal of times, but it’s very important to control the things we can right now,” H. Dieu Luong, DDS, a New Jersey-based dentist, told Healthline. “On a long list of things in these trying times is oral care.”

Generally speaking, dentists’ advice is to maintain a daily routine of brushing teeth and flossing to prevent tooth decay.

“The main objective is very simple: plaque control,” Daniel Rodda, DDS, owner of Oasis Dental Care in Flagstaff, Arizona, told Healthline.

He advises brushing teeth twice daily and flossing once per day.

“If you haven’t already, make the switch to an electric toothbrush — and brush your teeth for 2 minutes,” Faraj Edher, DDS, a prosthodontist in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, told Healthline. “This has shown to offer the highest levels of oral hygiene, which is crucial at a time when you aren’t seeing your dentist or hygienist for cleanings and checkups.”

Rinsing with a non-alcohol-based mouthwash twice a day also can help reduce plaque buildup leading to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis).

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“The oral microbiome is a key component of the immune system,” Mark Burhenne, DDS, founder of AsktheDentist.com, told Healthline. “Mouthwashes high in alcohol or toothpastes with bactericidal components in them, like triclosan or other antibacterial ingredients, can greatly disrupt the health of the oral microbiome.”

“During this time, it’s best not to use any mouthwash or toothpaste that is meant to kill oral bacteria,” Burhenne said. “Your best bet is to use a hydroxyapatite toothpaste, which is less bactericidal than fluoride but rebuilds tooth enamel equally as well.”

Other dentists also recommend the use of fluoride-based toothpaste.

What you eat is also important.

Chris Strandburg, DDS, a spokesperson for Waterpik, advised avoiding excessive snacking — a habit that’s all too easy to adopt when dealing with the stress and boredom inherent in self-quarantining.

“Starchy foods or drinks lead to acid in our mouths, which dissolves tooth surfaces,” Strandburg told Healthline. “The more often our teeth are bathed in these acids, the weaker and softer they become.”

Burhenne also recommended avoiding non-fiber carbohydrates — “which act just like straight sugar and contribute to plaque buildup” — as well as adopting a Paleo-type diet and avoiding processed foods, if possible, to protect oral health.

Good hydration also is important for oral health, dentists agree.

“Resist turning to unhealthy habits to manage your stress,” Jared Cox, DDS, owner of Today’s Family Dentistry in Searcy, Arkansas. “Overindulging in smoking and drinking can be detrimental to oral health. Smoking inhibits the blood supply to your gums and increases your risk for gum infections. High exposure to alcohol can dry out the cells in your cheeks and gums. Chewing on ice, pen caps, or fingernails as a means of stress management can cause the teeth to chip or break.”

Dentists also recommend avoiding hard foods that can crack a tooth or damage fillings as well as popcorn, peanut brittle, and sticky candy.

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“Be careful not to pull out a filling while flossing,” Mike Koumaras, DMD, told Healthline. “Pull the floss through the area side-to-side instead of up through the tooth contact.”

If you suspect that COVID-19 is present in your home, disinfect your toothbrush, advises Mike Golpa, DDS, the chief executive officer of the G4byGolpa dental implant centers.

“Take good care of your toothbrush,” he told Healthline. “It’s very sensitive for transmitting viruses.”

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