A recent study found that gum disease is associated with increased risk of complications from COVID-19, providing another reason for people to focus on proper oral health habits.
While nearly everyone knows to brush in the morning and at night and to floss daily, there are numerous other ways to help maintain or improve your oral health amid COVID-19 and in the future. Here are some strategies to consider from Dr. Leonard Weiss, chief dental officer at UnitedHealthcare:
Upgrade your toothbrush and technique
Electric toothbrushes offer several advantages over manual brushes. Some synch to an app to help people develop better oral health habits by providing personalized feedback, such as brushing duration, intensity and coverage. People should brush for a full two minutes, use short, gentle strokes, and keep the head at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
Focus on gum health
Maintaining or improving gum health can help prevent periodontal disease, which may cause tooth loss and contribute to an array of other health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and dementia. In addition to daily flossing, people can also use a water flosser, which shoots a stream of water between the teeth and can help reduce bacteria below the gum line.
Evaluate the need for a night guard
In part due to COVID-19, more than 70% of dentists surveyed reported an increase in teeth grinding and clenching among patients, conditions often associated with stress. Some people may do this during sleep, contributing to damaged teeth, gum recession and tooth loss. To help avoid this, a dentist can identify signs of this condition and create a custom nightguard.
Tap into virtual dental care
Some dentists and dental plans are making available telephone and video consultations. The alternatives to an in-person visit offer a starting point for receiving advice and guidance. The consultation will help determine the need for in-person care, helping avoid often-unnecessary trips to the emergency department for a late-night toothache.