COVID-19 has become a part of our daily lives now, both as a nation and as part of a global society. It has changed the way we go about our lives and the way we look at the world around us. As cases continue to ebb and flow, we’ve learned about how to adjust, what we need to prioritize, and how to approach the impact this virus has had on our lives and our health. Along with everything else, dental health has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. We will likely continue to see that impact as we learn more about this virus and its effects on the body.
Reducing the Spread of COVID-19, and COVID Complications, With Your Dental Health
While the only surefire way to protect completely against the spread of COVID-19 is for all of us to remain entirely isolated for an extended period of time, long-term isolation is simply not a viable solution. Whether you’re a frontline worker or you need to go to the grocery store once a week, most of us are incurring some risk of infection. Unfortunately, that also means that some folks are out and about and unknowingly COVID positive. So what can you do beyond regularly wearing a mask, washing hands properly and often, and maintaining social distancing to protect against the spread of COVID-19? As it turns out, there are some things you can do that are good for your oral health and may also offer some protection against the spread of COVID-19.
Recent studies about oral health and COVID are promising. A recent study conducted by The Penn State College of Medicine found that rinsing with mouthwash for at least 30 seconds in a laboratory setting could inactivate 99.99% of the virus in the mouth for a period of time. In much the same way that hand washing destroys the protective membrane around the virus, rendering it inactive, mouthwash renders the virus inactive, too. Although further studies are needed in real settings where the viruses continue to replicate in other parts of the body, rinsing with certain mouthwashes could potentially provide one additional level of protection and help to reduce transmission risks. Moreover, in a study published in the British Dental Journal, researchers found a link between bacterial load in the mouth, poor oral health, and COVID-19 complications. This suggests that excellent oral health could help reduce the risk of these complications. Another study, published in the Journal of the California Dental Association, also found a link between gum disease and COVID-19 complications, further supporting the idea
The ultimate takeaway of these studies is that taking excellent care of your teeth and gums can ultimately help protect your health, even if you should contract COVID-19. Additionally, maintaining oral health and using mouthwash occasionally may add another layer of protection against the spread of COVID-19.
COVID Protection for You and Your Oral Health
Unfortunately, the dental health community is finding that the COVID-19 pandemic has had serious consequences when it comes to oral health. Not only have people been afraid or unable to make it in for regular dental appointments, but because of the stresses of the pandemic, many people are experiencing an increase in dental problems as well. Dentists across the country are seeing patients with cracked and fractured teeth as a result of anxious grinding or stressed jaw clenching. What’s worse is that, because so many people are experiencing upheaval in our regular routines, many are also failing to regularly use supportive gear like retainers and night guards; not using the supportive gear can exacerbate existing problems. Additionally, dentists are finding that because so many people are putting off dental appointments and snacking more than they might under normal circumstances, there has been an increase in cavities and gum disease, too. Without regular dental care and good oral hygiene, small problems can become big problems, both in your mouth but also in your overall health. The best protection for your health is to continue your regular dental care and address dental problems as they arise.
Thankfully, the good news is that visiting your dentist is incredibly safe. Because dentists have always incorporated highly effective protocols to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases, dental providers are well versed in maintaining safe practices and environments to protect everyone in the office. Dr. Kami Hoss, co-founder of The Super Dentists, Howard Healthcare Academy and Acceledontics, points out dental professionals are already infection control specialists, and have been dealing with airborne pathogens for decades, but because of COVID, the vast majority of dental offices doctors and employees now wear full PPE (personal protective equipment) and have increased precautions to reduce aerosols during dental procedures. In addition, patient protocols have changed. You’ll no longer see a waiting room filled with multiple patients and family members, nor will you find piles of shared magazines to peruse. Instead, many offices, like The Super Dentists’ office, have made many patient processes, like filling out forms and checking-in, virtual to minimize time in the office. Patients can feel confident coming in to see their dentist to maintain their oral health. In fact, it’s essential!
Stay Healthy With Excellent Oral Hygiene and Smart, Safe Practices
Maintaining your oral health protects your overall health, and with excellent dental care and consistent oral hygiene, you can help protect your teeth and the health of your body, too.
The changes brought on by COVID-19 have meant a lot of adjustments, and one of those adjustments is recommitting to your oral and overall health, even though now that may mean a few more steps. Taking care of your oral health offers one more layer of protection against COVID, and it can also ensure you maintain a healthy mouth, teeth, gums, and body.