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12 Apr 2020

How to keep dental dilemmas at bay during the Coronavirus crisis

The Coronavirus crisis has turned the world upside down, and many of us are adjusting to a new daily routine. When it comes to our health, prevention is always better than cure, and this message is more important to dental patients than ever before, with dental practices across the UK closed. While lockdown measures remain in place, it’s useful for people to understand the importance of taking good care of their dental health.

There are several ways you can reduce the risk of dental dilemmas while local clinics are shut. The most important step to take is adopting and following a thorough daily oral hygiene regime. Brushing twice a day, cleaning between the teeth and using fluoride toothpaste can help to lower the risk of decay and protect the enamel. Brushing is a means of removing leftover bits of food and harmful bacteria before they can combine with saliva to form plaque. Plaque, a sticky substance that clings to the tooth surfaces and the gums, is the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease. When the bacteria found in plaque feed, they release acids, which attack the teeth, wearing down the enamel. The acids also irritate the gums, causing them to become tender, swollen and sore. When brushing, it’s crucial to clean every individual tooth and to spend at least 2 minutes in the morning and the evening polishing the teeth and cleaning the tongue. As it’s virtually impossible to target every part of the mouth with a brush, using dental floss or inter-dental brushes is beneficial to remove bacteria and food debris from the cracks between the teeth.

In addition to a good daily oral hygiene routine, it’s also advisable to keep an eye on your diet. Eating a lot of sugary and acidic foods and drinks can have a negative impact on dental health, but when you eat is as important as what you eat. Grazing all day, for example, is damaging, as it means that your enamel is under continual attack. When you eat, bacteria release acids, which target the enamel. Instead of snacking, stick to three main meals and drink plenty of water. It’s also beneficial to ensure you hit the recommended daily intake of calcium. Dairy products, leafy green vegetables and nuts are good sources of calcium.

Then final piece of advice for patients during lockdown is to contact your dentist if you do have any concerns. Urgent care is available from designated emergency clinics, and many dental practices are also providing advice via the telephone and the web. Video calls and consultations can help dentists to offer guidance for patients dealing with toothache, for example, and dental professionals can also prescribe medications such as antibiotics and painkillers, over the phone.

It is natural for dental patients to be apprehensive about their health during the lockdown, as we are going through an unprecedented crisis. Taking steps to lower the risk of dental issues and protect the smile is a great way to boost health and wellbeing and reduce anxiety linked to oral health problems during the lockdown.

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