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8 Tips for a Healthy Mouth During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Until your next routine dental visit, you can do plenty to have a healthy mouth.

It’s more important than ever to keep your immune system strong, and your oral health is crucial. Until you can schedule routine visits with your dentist and dental hygienist again, here are some of the best things you can do to maintain a healthy mouth and minimize the risk of a dental emergency.

Cartoon showing electric toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, and phone timer set to two minutes

Floss daily, and brush twice each day

The basic advice for a regular flossing and brushing routine has never been more important. As always, wash your hands thoroughly before and after cleaning your teeth. Floss your teeth nightly to get them as clean as possible before you settle down to sleep, and brush in the morning and at night for two minutes each time. (Setting the timer on your phone is an easy way to accomplish this.) Keep your toothbrush clean and allow it to air dry between uses. If you can, use an electric toothbrush—and if you’ve been using the same toothbrush for three months, be sure to switch to a new one.

Related article: Use Your Toothbrush Like a Champion with These 11 Tips

Avoid using alcohol-based mouthwashes and mouth rinses

A healthy mouth helps keep your immune system healthy, but high-alcohol content mouthwashes and mouth rinses can interfere with your mouth’s healthy balance. It’s best to avoid them, and instead choose an alcohol-free mouthwash or mouth rinse.

Related article: Should You Use Mouthwash, or Not?

Avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugar

Water, milk, and unsweetened teas are the best drink choices for a healthy mouth. Combined with harmful mouth bacteria, sugars in sweetened drinks can ferment and lead to tooth decay—despite your best efforts to keep your mouth clean. The fermentation process forms acids that can cause tooth sensitivity, cracks in teeth, and tooth erosion. Artificially sweetened drinks are just as problematic. Even though they lack sugar, the acid they contain can also lead to tooth erosion.

Related article: Your Favorite Drinks: Superheroes or Foes?

For a healthy mouth, remember that your teeth aren’t tools

It may be tempting or quicker to use your teeth when the right tool isn’t handy, but it’s not worth the risk of cracking, loosening, or even pulling your teeth out entirely. Severe damage to your teeth may require bridges, crowns, dental implants, or other significant restorative treatment. Keep your mouth healthy by taking the time to find the tool you need!

Stop smoking and vaping

The CDC lists smoking among conditions that could compromise your immune system and increase your risk of contracting COVID-19. In addition, there is already much research showing that smoking cigarettes, cigars, or a pipe raises a smoker’s risk of developing gum disease and mouth cancer, and losing teeth. While it can be difficult to quit smoking, doing so allows the body to begin healing almost immediately. The Quitter’s Circle website offers useful advice for quitting smoking.

Avoiding smoking and vaping is crucial for a healthy mouth.
Research also suggests that vaping carries its own oral health risks. A 2016 study at the University of Rochester found that the vapors of burning e-cigarettes cause inflammation of oral cells, putting the user’s entire mouth at risk of disease. Vaping may lead to dry mouth, which promotes tooth decay, and the nicotine in vaping devices can damage gum tissue. Flavored vapes are even riskier:the flavoring chemicals they contain raise the risk of inflammation and/or ulcers.

Related article: Is Vaping Bad for Me?

For a healthy mouth, eat a healthy diet

Eating well to maintain your oral health will help you keep up your overall health. There are plenty of delicious ways to get the vitamins and minerals you need. For strong teeth and strong tooth enamel, look to calcium-rich dairy foods, nuts, leafy green vegetables, and fatty fish. Phosphorus also rebuilds tooth enamel, and you’ll find it in many kinds of fish and seafood, dairy foods, meat, and eggs. Lentils, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans are good vegan sources of phosphorus. To promote healing, leafy green vegetables high in vitamin K are your best choice. To prevent infections, choose foods rich in polyphenols, such as berries, dark chocolate, and certain kinds of nuts. This blog post has more details.

Related article: How to Protect Your Teeth if You’re Vegan

Exercise daily

Even though your gym, dance studio, or local park may be closed, there’s plenty you can do on your own to keep up your physical fitness. If you can, go for a brisk 20-minute walk outside; just be sure to keep your distance from others. Practice stretching or yoga at home. Do some jumping jacks each day, or have a dance party in your living room. A daily exercise routine will help you keep your immune system strong and healthy, and it will also help you to feel tired and ready to sleep at night.

Getting enough sleep is important for a healthy mouth.

Do your best to get enough sleep, which is also important for a healthy mouth

Many of us are under extra stress these days, but sufficient sleep is a basic health need. A 2013 study of sleep disorders and oral health found that among more than 30,000 adults involved in the study, those who slept fewer than six hours per night ran a higher risk of gum inflammation. If you have teens, they should aim for nine hours of sleep per night. Fulfilling your body’s need for sufficient sleep is a key part of keeping your immune system strong and maintaining a healthy mouth. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, the National Sleep Foundation website offers suggestions for improvement.

We encourage you to do as much as you can to maintain your oral health and your overall health until your next routine appointment! Should you have a dental emergency before then, remember that we’re here for you.

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