Maintaining good oral health is especially important during this time with the #StayAtHome order in effect. State mandates are keeping dental offices closed for now and the last place you want to end up is in the hospital ER. That being said, we created this Guide to Keeping Your Mouth Healthy While Your Dental Office is Closed to help you avoid any unnecessary dental emergencies throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.
Although your dentist is still available to give advice over the phone, here are some dental tips for keeping your teeth in tip-top shape as well as some common problems with simple solutions.
Brush Your Teeth for 2 Minutes
Everyone knows that we should be washing our hands frequently during this time, but how many of us are keeping up with brushing our teeth for a full 2 minutes? In fact, the national average is only 22 seconds! Don’t cheat yourself – especially during this time. Brushing for a full 2 minutes twice daily is the easiest thing you can do to keep your mouth healthy. Also, be sure to pay attention to the hard to get to areas in the back (These areas are usually where most problems arise).
Wear a Nightguard
For those of you who clench or grind your teeth at night (you know who you are) – make sure to wear your Nightguard. These hard times are stressful and can lead to more teeth clenching and/or grinding, which causes muscle inflammation and jaw soreness. In addition, the excessive grinding and clenching forces on your teeth can result in tooth fractures that require immediate emergency treatment. So, yes, it’s time to start wearing that Night-guard again. If you have lost or misplaced it, you can get a DIY one here:
Invisalign, Braces, & Retainers
For those of you that now have straight teeth as a result of using braces or Invisalign, now is not the time to let your alignment lapse. Take this time in isolation to get back on track with your retainer.
If you are currently in Invisalign treatment, continue wearing your aligners as instructed. If you do not have any more aligners, it may be prudent to stop wearing the aligners full time (22 hrs/day) for now. Instead, continue to wear them only while sleeping. This amount of wear will be good enough to keep your teeth in their current position. It will also make your aligners last longer until you can get new ones.
Irritations & Burns
Luckily, wounds in the oral cavity heal in about half the time it takes to heal on your skin. So for inadvertent scrapes, mild abrasions, and burns from hot food, etc. will go away on their own. If there is bleeding, bite on a towel and keep the pressure on the area. The bleeding should stop within an hour.
If you chip a tooth and there is no pain other than an uncomfortable feeling as your tongue runs over the sharp edges, then there is no need to worry. You can press some dental wax or temporary dental filling into the hole as a temporary fix until you can see your dentist. If there is persisting pain then you should contact your dentist. Both of these products can be found in most drugstores as well.
Loose Crown, Veneer, or Bridge
Many times, the crown or veneer that has come out can simply be recemented until you can get in to see the dentist. A denture adhesive works well. Here are 2 products that can help:
Loose/Broken Bracket or Sharp Wire from Braces
Placement of dental wax can help your cheek, lip or tongue from continual irritation. However, if the wire is unruly, you may need to bend it or cut it to get some relief.
Pain or Swelling
Mild pain can be managed with OTC pain killers but continual pain that does not subside with medications and keeps you up at night may be a different story. Similarly, if you experience swelling that is persistent and warm to the touch, call your dentist immediately. Most likely, you will need to be seen and your dentist can put you in touch with that handful of dental offices that are still open for emergency treatment and get you relief.