Community Health Partners and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognize the unprecedented and extraordinary circumstances dentists and all healthcare professionals face related to growing concern about COVID-19. CHP is deeply concerned about the health and well-being of the public and our dental team. CHP Dental Clinics have now reopened for walk-in and scheduled appointments in Bozeman and Livingston. However, there are many things you can do in the safety of your home to prevent the need for visiting a clinic and safeguard your oral health. By actively attending to your oral hygiene, you can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the public and your local dental team.
If you’re not experiencing a dental emergency, the best approach to your dental health is prevention. While you’re waiting for your local provider to reopen for dental care, practice basic preventative habits that will make trips to the dentist less necessary or urgent. A healthy mouth is also crucial to an overall healthy immune system. Maintaining oral health can free up your body’s immune system to fight off other potential threats.
Here are five basic oral health practices CHP dental professionals recommend.
You know this one, but it’s always worth restating. We recommend brushing your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes (and don’t forget to brush your tongue as well). Now is also an ideal time to invest in an electric toothbrush. These devices can reduce dental plaque 21 percent more and gingivitis 11 percent more than a regular toothbrush with consistent use.
Plaque that sits on your teeth for a long time can be problematic for your oral health, especially as it hardens into tartar. Tartar buildup can cause unwanted issues, including tooth decay, gum disease, abscesses, and tooth loss — things that often result in a trip to the dentist. By flossing your teeth at least once a day, you can help rid your teeth of plaque that has built up between the teeth or below the gumline, avoiding many preventable issues.
Not only does mouthwash leave you feeling fresh, but it can also remove particles of food that you may miss while brushing or flossing. There are many kinds of mouthwash for different concerns, but we recommend one without alcohol. Washes with fluoride can also help strengthen enamel and prevent cavities.
In times of stress and anxiety, it can be easy to turn to coping habits such as excessive snacking, alcohol consumption, or smoking. But these habits can have adverse effects on your teeth and gums. The more often teeth are exposed to acids in foods and alcohol, the weaker your teeth become, making them more susceptible to tooth decay issues. We recommend avoiding snacking and drinking alcohol or sugary drinks throughout the day to limit this exposure. In addition, smoking can also increase your risk for gum infections, so it’s best to avoid this activity. One thing you should consume more of is water. Drinking water after meals can wash away food particles and neutralize the acids that form from food consumption.
Toothbrushes (and other hygiene tools such as floss or retainers) can be vessels for transmitting viruses and can introduce unwanted bacteria. Make sure these products are covered and kept away from the toilet, such as in a cabinet. You can use a product like a toothbrush headcover to help keep bacteria from landing on your toothbrush. Just make sure to change them periodically, like your toothbrush, to minimize the spread of bacteria.
If you are experiencing a dental emergency or need to schedule a routine appointment, reach out to your nearest CHP Dental Clinic for help. We will be re-evaluating our practices and regulations daily to comply with recommendations from local and national public health officials.