Updated: Mar 22, 2021
If you’re anything like me, the past several weeks have been filled with a lot of uncertainty. Between schools being closed, to (somewhat) working from home, to an indefinite shelter-in-place, it feels like things are no longer in your hands.
While there are a lot of things not in your control right now, one thing that is entirely up to you is maintaining your oral health.
Why is maintaining your dental health at this time of particular importance? Due to shelter-in-place ordinances and social distancing mandates, many dentists, myself included, have closed their offices to routine, non-emergency dental treatment. This makes it vitally important that you keep up your dental homecare to minimize damage while you’re not able to see a dentist. Read on for my professional tips on how to accomplish this.
How should I keep my teeth healthy during shelter-in-place? With all the recent adjustments to our lives, it’s probably easy to let routines, like dental homecare, slide. Try to avoid this from happening as the repercussions could be severe.
Wash your hands – sing the “Happy birthday” song twice before and after any personal dental care to avoid spreading of germs.
Brush at least twice a day– be sure to get those hard-to-reach spots
Floss once a day – this helps remove bacteria and plaque in places your brush can’t reach
Eat a well-balanced diet – limit sticky, sugary snacks like candies and cookies
Limit snacking – frequent snacking increases your risk of cavities
Limit sugary drinks – soda and fruit juices can harm tooth surfaces
Drink plenty of water – drink water with meals and between meals
Avoid smoking – smoking limits blood flow to your mouth, making it easier for bacteria to grow
What if I experience a dental emergency? Most dental emergencies are best handled in the dental office. To decrease the burden on the emergency departments, do not go to the hospital for your urgent dental needs. Instead, contact your dentist, who can likely handle many situations over the phone. S/he can guide what to do if a crown comes off or if you’re having dental pain, for example. The American Dental Association has also created this useful resource to determine whether your emergency requires an in-person dental visit at this time.
In general, something qualifies as a dental emergency if it puts a person in a high-risk condition. For example, uncontrolled bleeding or a bacterial infection that causes swelling and interferes with breathing.
What are some general rules of thumb if I have a dental problem?
Most dental issues can be resolved temporarily with some over-the-counter (OTC) products or items found in your medicine cabinet. Remember, the below list is not comprehensive and should not replace advice from a licensed dental professional:
Dental pain – For dental pain, the key is whether there is swelling and if the pain continues. As with all medicines, please be sure to follow instructions.
For pain without swelling – common OTC pain medicines like Advil and Tylenol can help. Contact your dentist for appropriate dosage and whether these medications will work for your particular situation.
For pain with swelling – in addition to OTC pain medicines, rinse your mouth with warm salt water for short-term relief. Consult your dentist for further guidance.
Fractured tooth, lost filling, lost crown or bridge – You can purchase OTC temporary filling material from the dental aisle of your pharmacy. Ask or search for “loose cap or filling repair.”
Trauma – If you experience a physical injury to your mouth, contact your dentist for guidance. Your dentist will evaluate your situation and recommend next steps.
Gum, cheek, tongue and lip pain
For children experiencing pain in any of these areas, OTC pain medicines like children’s Advil and Tylenol can help. There are also children’s oral gels that can offer relief. Contact your dentist or pediatric dentist for help.
For adults experiencing pain without swelling, common OTC medicated gels are available, including the brand name Orajel.
If you’re in doubt about your situation, reach out to your dentist for help.
When will you be reopening?
Currently, Smiletheory is following local and state shelter-in-place ordinances and is focused on providing emergency dental care and giving people resources to help protect their oral health. When we reopen, as always, we will follow all CDC, OSHA, and infection control guidelines to ensure the safety of our team and patients.
Visit us online if you need help with your dental health.
Wishing you good health,