Maintaining Oral Health During ‘Lockdown’ Restrictions

Helping our Epsom patients maintain good oral health care at this challenging time

Toddler with toothbrushIt has been nearly three weeks now and there is every indication that we will be instructed to maintain this ‘lockdown’ period for even longer before restrictions can be gradually lifted. We know that it is a challenge for many of our patients as it is for us.

As you will likely be aware, all dental practices, including the Clock Tower Dental Clinic have had to close for all but urgent dental advice. This means that we are currently unable to monitor a patient’s general mouth health or to carry out minor restorative treatments such as fillings.

It is important therefore, that at this time, we pay even more attention than usual to looking after our teeth and gums. A minor toothache caused by tooth decay will make these long weeks seem even longer and will not be treated quickly until dental practices are allowed to open again.

As most of us probably have more time on our hands than usual, this is a good opportunity to look at ways that we can take even better care of our teeth and gums.

Brushing and flossing

These are the bedrocks of good oral health care. Take a look at your toothbrush. Are the bristles worn? Have you had the toothbrush for more than 3 months? If the answer to either is yes, then it is time to change it, or change the head of an electric one.  We appreciate that this may not be the ideal time to do this, but if you are currently going to the supermarket for your weekly shop, adding a new toothbrush to your shipping list will help you keep your mouth in good health. If not, make a note to change it as soon as possible.

Then we come on to the actual brushing. Night time shouldn’t be an issue because that part of our routine has probably not changed a great deal. Our morning brushing might be different though. Most of us will have a routine before we go to work, possibly brushing just before we leave the house. As many of us will not be currently working, it is easy to let this slip. We recommend that you find a new regular time spot to brush your teeth, perhaps straight upon waking or before you go for your morning walk.

Do you floss your teeth? If you don’t, now is a really good time to start. Around 80% of us in the UK do not currently use dental floss. This is bad news and adding this to your daily regime can make a real difference to your gum health. Floss helps to remove both bacteria and food debris from between the teeth and this is an area where decay and gum diseases such as gingivitis often take hold. Although some patients claim to find this tricky, we feel that, with the help of one of the many instructional videos available, you should be able to master this reasonably quickly. As we are probably spending more time on our laptops etc, why not use just a little bit of this to learn how to floss correctly?

Take extra care with what you eat

Whilst we are talking about our viewing habits; although some of us will no doubt be organised and motivated, many of us will inevitably end up watching more TV or online videos than we normally do. There is no judgement to this. Most of us are finding our own way of coping at this time and if that means watching TV then fine. The danger, from a dental view point, is that this often also means a lot more snacking. Whilst crisps etc may be relatively harmless for our teeth, an increase in sugary sweets and chocolates certainly isn’t.

Do try to limit your intake of sugary foods at this time. We know that it probably isn’t easy and we know that chocolate is a mood booster, something that many of us will be looking for at this time. The fact is though, that whatever the circumstances, sugar does lead to tooth decay and too much will make it happen faster and probably more extensively.

As our Epsom practice is closed for all but urgent emergency advice, this means that if a cavity forms and you have a throbbing toothache, it may not be treated. You can still ring our surgery and we can offer advice but in a non urgent situation like this, it is likely to mean that you will need to take painkillers until the practice is open again and you can be treated. Alternatively we may be able to refer you to a regional emergency dental facility.

Hopefully, these tips, combined with general good sense will enable our patients to come out of this lockdown period with healthy teeth and gums. If you don’t already see a hygienist, you might want to consider doing so once things return to normal. This is a great way to have your teeth thoroughly cleaned and remove built up bacteria and mineral deposits from the surface of your teeth.

In the unfortunate event of you being in significant pain or where serious trauma has occured to a tooth, you can still contact the Clock Tower Dental Clinic on 01372 720136. You will then be triaged and advised on what the next steps are that you should take.

Until we meet in person again, please stay safe and follow the government’s advice so that we can all come out healthy on the other side of this crisis as soon as possible.