Jessamin E. Cipollina, M.A.
In a matter of weeks, our world has been turned upside down due to the present coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other national and global health organizations are promoting hygiene practices to prevent transmission of the virus. Schools, universities, and colleges have moved to remote instruction; non-essential employees are working from home to implement social distancing practices so people can better protect themselves and their loved ones and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Health care professionals across the globe are working tirelessly and fearlessly to treat the hundreds of thousands of patients with this life threatening infection. With over 800,000 reported cases and counting, it is all hands on deck for health care workers as hospitals overflow and medical supplies remain scarce worldwide.
Given such sudden and drastic changes to our everyday routine, it is common for folks to neglect basic daily health practices. As you know, oral health shares many links to other health problems, especially chronic conditions. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, respiratory conditions like pneumonia and conditions where people are immunocompromised, like those with cancer, organ transplants, and auto-immune diseases, are among those for whom daily oral hygiene is especially important to prevent oral disease. If you or a loved one experiences an oral health issue that requires immediate attention, the ADA recommends contacting your dentist instead of going to the ER, as hospitals and frontline health professionals are overwhelmed with caring for patients affected by COVID-19.
OHNEP always has and will continue to advocate for all health professionals to integrate oral health in their primary, acute, home, or long term care setting or practice to reduce the burden of oral disease on overall health. So to keep your message simple; please remind your patients to:
- Brush teeth, tongue and gums with a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush
- Replace toothbrushes every three to four months
- Use fluoride toothpastes to help prevent against tooth decay
- Floss at least once per day
- Floss all teeth, and all spaces
- Consider investing in a power air or water flosser if you are unable to visit your dentist for a regularly scheduled cleaning
- Rinse mouth to prevent harmful build-up of plaque and tartar
- Rinse with warm water after meals
- Rinse with antibacterial mouthwash
Right now, many of us feel isolated and powerless with the looming uncertainty of what implications the current pandemic will have for our world. One health practice that each of us can be in charge of is our oral hygiene! If there is anything that we can be in control of in such an out-of-control world, it is our own health. Before we can support others, we need to look after ourselves, and practicing good oral hygiene is one simple and effective way to practice self-care every day.
Burger, D. ADA recommending dentists postpone elective procedures. American Dental Association. Published March 16, 2020. https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2020-archive/march/ada-recommending-dentists-postpone-elective-procedures.
Businesswire. DentalPlans.com Provides Tips for At-Home Dental Hygiene. Published March 24, 2020. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200324005050/en/.