If you have children at home, are working from home, or have a weak immune system, being stuck indoors all day is a vast alteration in most normal routines. As we adjust during this period, keeping your smile healthy can serve as an added health booster.
The mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria. It is a dark, warm, moist environment with food particles and tiny hiding spots, ideal for bacteria reproduction. Brushing twice and day and flossing daily are ways you can keep oral bacteria to manageable levels. However, when stuck inside for most of the day, every day, there are some added challenges we’d like you to be aware of.
After all, the last thing you need is a toothache coming on or notice your gums are bleeding when brushing. Below are some tips to help you minimize the risks to the health of your smile (and reduce bacteria levels that your immune system will have to battle).
LIMIT SNACKING – When you’re just steps away from a pantry full of chips or refrigerator that’s chilling chocolate pudding, it’s hard to not give in. But remember: every time you eat or drink (anything other than plain water), an acid attack begins in the mouth. This surge of acid comes in with saliva and is designed to aid digestion by breakdown the contents in the mouth. The problem, however, is the potency of the acid when it comes to your teeth. This acid is so strong that it can actually soften tooth enamel for a period of 20-30 minutes after the last bite of granola bar or the last sip of cola. This leave teeth more susceptible to cavities. When you add sugar or carbohydrates (which break down as sugar in the mouth) to the mix, the severity of the acid attack becomes greater and even more damaging. If you can’t focus on your work because of your growling tummy (or the kids are begging for a treat), get out the carrots and hummus or spread some unsweetened almond butter on celery sticks. And, don’t just leave the snacks out for an hour or so. Have them enjoy their treats in a 15-20 minute span and do a “last call” before removing the plate of goodies. This will limit the duration of an added acid attack to their day.
KEEP YOUR MOUTH MOIST – Saliva is designed to move oral bacteria out of the mouth. When saliva levels are low, oral bacteria accumulate and reproduce quickly. Frequent dry mouth causes your breath odor to be bad due to an overgrowth of oral bacteria.
Causes for a dry mouth are smoking, alcohol, caffeine and some medications as well as mouth breathing, including snoring. The aging process and health conditions such as anemia, hypertension, arthritis and diabetes also contribute to dry mouth.
To lessen the negative effects of dry mouth and enjoy fresher breath, drink water throughout the day. If you take medications that cause oral dryness, ask us about alternatives that are prescription strength. For frequent dry mouth, you can also purchase an OTC mouth rinse that is designed to replenish oral moisture. Just be sure its ingredients do not include alcohol, which is drying to the mouth even in this form.
MAKE BRUSHING & FLOSSING PRIORITIES – It’s easy to get off-schedule when unexpected events occur. However, for this unusual period in America, in particular, it is actually an opportunity to make your oral home care routine even better.
Because you are in easy access of your toothbrush, toothpaste and floss, you can more conveniently blend this into your daily tasks. Too, make this a ‘family affair’. Help your children learn to swish after meals, brush without being rushed for school departures or bedtime, and learn to floss without popping the floss between teeth. If you make it a “together” part of your day, they’ll watch YOU as you brush and floss and start to be more committed as well.
If flossing is awkward (for you or your children), look into purchasing an electronic flosser to make the task easy. These have proven to be effective and affordable ways to enhance the health of your mouth.
A word of caution, here. Don’t rush to brush just after eating. Instead, wait 20-30 minutes so the acid attack in your mouth subsides. The abrasiveness of toothpaste or tooth brush bristles can wear down precious enamel when acidity in the mouth leaves teeth vulnerable. Once this protective shell is worn away, it’s gone forever.
WATCH YOUR SUGAR CONTENT – In tense times, “comfort food” is often a go-to. Making meatloaf or mac ‘n cheese for dinner tends to soothe anxiety for some people.
However, grabbing a candy bar, sweetened cola, or bowl of ice-cream isn’t good for your smile or your waistline. The World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled the U.S. as the biggest consumer of sugar on a global basis. That’s hardly surprising when considering the obesity rate in U.S.
In addition to making Americans fatter, sugar consumption is eating away at our teeth. Begin to minimize your consumption of sugary foods and beverages (including colas and juice). If done gradually, you’ll hardly notice. Hopefully, over time, you can easily decline sugar-laden foods and drinks and your smile and waistline will show it!
At any time in our lives, thorough dental care should be a committed part of maintaining good overall health. During this uncertain time, you can keep your oral health in good shape and prevent (or greatly minimize) the risks for future cavities and gum disease.
We want you to enjoy a terrific smile without expenses that can be avoided. Once our world returns to a more normal pace, be sure to keep your dental check-ups and cleanings on schedule (every 6 mos.).
Sending you all our virtual hugs!