July 14, 2020

City dentist’s tips to teeth care during Covid-19 lockdown

5 simple tips to avoid dental visit

Covid-19 lockdown has thrown up several challenges for the community, including getting a dental treatment that has its own unique limitations.

Unlike GPs who are able to provide consultation over phone/emails, most dental treatment involves use of aerosol, and consultation over phone is impractical.

The Dental Council suspended all non-essential and elective dental services particularly those generating aerosol, on 23 March to reduce risk of community spread. Emergency treatment, however, was advised to continue with appropriate precautions (https://www.newsviews.co.nz/all-non-essential-elective-dental-services-suspended/)

Since the lockdown, most dental practitioners are reportedly inundated with phone calls daily from people seeking treatment appointments. All non-emergent in nature are being declined, and many callers end up being upset.

Healthy teeth tips

Some of the local dentists NewsViews spoke to, highlighted the high risks involved in accepting patients for treatment due to the usage of aerosol and in certain cases, lack of protective gear to safeguard against risk of infection was also a factor.

“There has been no supply of protective gowns or masks, for example, from the Ministry of Health and our own supplies are running out quickly,” confirmed one dentist.

To mitigate the suffering and raise awareness of oral dental health during this lockdown period, NewsViews approached Hamilton’s City Smile dentist, Dr Sachin Sood this morning to seek some tips.

“It’s now more important than ever to look after your teeth. Some clinics, including City Smile, are still providing emergency procedures for  patients who are suffering from dental trauma, but for everyone else, it’s time to tackle your dental hygiene routine at home,” says Dr Sood.

“From saltwater mouthwashes to not snacking on fruit,” are the tips Dr. Sood  shared with NewsViews.

His top five tips to help keep your teeth and gums healthy and pain-free are:

Brush twice a day and make sure to floss

Brush before breakfast and before going to bed. Use a small, soft toothbrush placed on the margin of your teeth and gums, and make a small vibrating movement to break up the bacteria and plaque.

It is not essential to brush plaque away (this may also remove enamel), disturbing it is enough to interrupt the development of decay and gum disease. As toothbrush doesn’t reach in-between your teeth, so using floss to wipe the sides of the teeth will ensure all surfaces are cleaned. After eating, wash down your meal with a glass of water, which will help dislodge bits of food stuck between your teeth.

Use a fluoride toothpaste

Fluoride toothpaste is best used to make teeth stronger, more resistant to tooth decay, and it is the only substance that will help to reverse early tooth decay.

This is especially important if you find yourself snacking more at home. Please remember to use an age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste for your children and to supervise their brushing (do it for them if necessary) until they are at least six years old.

Avoid snacking on sugary and hard foods

Our teeth are designed to be attacked by acid not more than three times a day. Any more than that, and you run the risk of developing tooth decay. This includes consuming fruits, fruit juices and smoothies. Keep sugary food and fruits to mealtimes (or 40 minutes before or after), and choose sugar-free snacks instead, for example, cheese, veggies or crackers.

Avoid snacking on hard foods such as pork crackling, nuts, chocolate that has been stored in the fridge – these foods often cause breakages in teeth. Avoid microwaved popcorn. Countless number of people come in with cracked teeth from eating half-popped popcorn kernels, not to mention the sneaky husk. If your tooth does break and is sharp, use chewing gum to cover it and protect the mouth and tongue from rubbing against it.

Use saltwater as mouthwash

Mouthwash is not a replacement for brushing, but it can be a useful disinfectant, especially when there is a pandemic in full swing. A simple saltwater mouthwash is a good homemade alternative if mouthwash is sold out everywhere. Just dissolve a teaspoon of salt in half a cup of warm water, bathe your teeth and gums in it, gargle and spit.

Have an emergency kit ready

It is sensible to have some painkillers at home in case dental pain does come on. Paracetamol, and ibuprofen (as long as you are not displaying Covid-19 symptoms) are all effective analgesics for dental pain. Anything that can be considered urgent, including severe pain, infection, swelling in the gums and neck, bleeding and trauma, like a broken tooth or fallen fillings, should be treated as soon as possible.