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4 Tips for Self-Isolation Oral Care: Dental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic
If you’re currently self-isolating to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus or believe you will be in the near future, now is the time to become prepared and well-informed. Not only is it important to stay on top of your dental health day in and day out, but especially when you’re sick or are at greater risk of becoming ill.
Here are a few Coronavirus FAQs and our top tips to maintain your best oral care during self-isolation.
- What is Coronavirus?
- Symptoms of COVID-19
- Coronavirus transmission
- Preventing the spread of Coronavirus
- How self-isolation works
- Oral health care in self-isolation
- Physical and mental health care during self-isolation
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are an extensive family of viruses that result in respiratory infections, which include the common cold through to more serious diseases. COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The following are the most common symptoms of the Coronavirus outbreak:
- Coughing or sneezing
- Difficulty breathing, which may develop into pneumonia
- Sore throat
How does Coronavirus spread?
Coronavirus transmission occurs in several ways:
- Close contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19
- Exposure to droplets from an infected person coughing or sneezing
- Contact with objects or surfaces that droplets have landed on, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes
How to prevent the spread of Coronavirus?
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the best way to protect yourself and others is to:
- Practice good hygiene
- Undertake self-isolation
- Engage in social distancing
What is self-isolation and how do you self-isolate?
Self-isolating or self-quarantine involves staying at home to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 to others. For Coronavirus in Australia, self-isolation currently takes 14 days when:
- You’re confirmed to have COVID-19
- You’ve been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
- You arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020
- Not going to public places (including work, school, shopping centres, childcare or university)
- Having someone else buy your food and other necessities and leaving them at your front door
- Not inviting visitors to your home (only the family you live with or other housemates should be in your house)
When self-isolating, you don’t need to wear a mask in your home, but you must wear one if you NEED to leave the house, for example to seek medical attention.
How do I take care of my oral health in self-isolation?
1. Coronavirus toothbrush hygiene
If you are confirmed to have COVID-19, it’s important to keep the rest of your household as safe as possible by being aware of the potential contamination of objects and areas you’re using. The virus primarily transits via aerosol/droplets, therefore is contagious via direct surface contact once it settles on a surface.
Toothbrushes are prone to accumulating bacteria, saliva and blood. As the droplets that spread Coronavirus are present in saliva, it’s crucial to isolate your toothbrush to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to other toothbrushes nearby. You should never share a toothbrush, and also use a separate toothpaste. After you’ve recovered from a virus, dispose of your toothbrush and use a brand new one, as the old one may carry the bacteria.
2. Self-isolation oral care routine
Keeping up with your usual dental maintenance is important, brushing with toothpaste and flossing daily. Here are our 6 oral hygiene routine tips during self-isolation:
- Brush regularly (2 x per day), but not aggressively. Ensure your technique includes brushing gently towards the gum margin in a circular motion. An electric brush can help optimise techniques. Whether you’re using a manual brush or an electric, soft bristles are essential. Ensure the head is not worn and change to a fresh brush every 3 months.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss once a day.
- Use tongue cleaners to scrape away excess plaque and bacteria which lead to bad breath. Tongue cleaning also increases your ability to taste better, as it removes dead cells and food debris which layer on the tongue after eating. These congest your taste buds and create a bad taste in your mouth.
- Use a mouthwash with 1% peroxide for 30 seconds. This works well for viral content, as COVID-19 is a virus relatively easy to disrupt with detergent or alcohol based products. This usually lasts 2-3 hours and can slightly reduce the risk of spreading a virus.
- After cleaning your teeth, always wash your hands and use a new towel to wipe your hands.
Don’t forget: 6 monthly check-ups and cleans are also important for general tooth and gum maintenance. If your appointment happens to be postponed due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, ensure you reschedule at your first convenience so your dentist can make sure your teeth are looking their best and to prevent further potential treatment down the track.
3. Self-isolation diet and lifestyle tips
For most people self-isolating, the activity of choice to pass the time is likely going to be Netflix and snacks! But, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of eating excessive amounts of junk food and neglecting your health. When it comes to the things you’re putting into your body, here’s what we recommend for staying fit and healthy:
- Limit sugary and acidic foods and avoid sugar in coffee and tea. Remember: soft drinks, fruit juices and energy drinks can damage your teeth.
- Most people turn to vitamin C to boost their immune system. Vitamin C is destructive to tooth enamel if chewed or dissolved to make a fizzy drink. Purchase this supplement in a capsule or tablet form to bypass the teeth.
- If you have a sore throat, choose sugar-free cough drops and avoid those that contain fructose or corn syrup. At the very least, avoid letting a cough drop sit in your mouth for long periods, as this increases the time that cavity-causing bacteria has to feed on the sugar, leading to acid being created which causes cavities.
- Do not smoke.
4. At-home hydration
Ensuring you keep hydrated while you’re in self-isolation is crucial to maintaining both your oral and general health, especially if you are unwell.
Your body can be more prone to losing fluids when it’s fighting off an infection, which increases your risk of becoming dehydrated or having dry mouth. A reduction of saliva in your mouth also increases your risk of tooth decay and gingivitis. This is due to the fact that saliva helps remove food particles and acid, which keeps your oral bacteria under control.
Some medications, such as antihistamines and decongestants can also lead to dry mouth, which further increases the need to keep hydrated with H2O.
Water should always be the number one choice for hydration. If you need some extra hydration and electrolytes, only drink sports drinks in moderation and make sure they’re sugar-free.
How to take care of your physical and mental health during self-isolation?
Caring for yourself during a Coronavirus self-quarantine means also not neglecting your mind and body! Continuing with the healthy habits you would during your regular routine is extremely valuable during what can be a stressful time.
For those who regularly have access to a gym to stay fit and active, being restricted to your home can cause distress and an unwelcome interference to your routine. You may wonder how to continue to stay in shape with limited resources.
Some effective self-isolation exercise ideas include:
- 30 minutes a day of online yoga
- Exercise DVDs
- Bodyweight/floor exercises
- Online coaching/training plans
- Walking around the backyard
- Home gym (dumbbells, bench, squat rack, exercise bike, treadmill etc)
Even if these workouts are not quite as high in intensity as those you’d normally do, even small amounts of exercise are proven to be extremely beneficial treatments for stress and depression. Don’t beat yourself up if your fitness slips up a little during this time – you’re only doing your best in this difficult situation, and if you are unwell it’s likely that you won’t be feeling very energetic and should take the time to rest.
It says it all in the name – isolation can be, well, isolating! This is why it’s so important to keep in touch with family and friends over the phone, messages, or social media, to remember you have a support network out there.
In addition, to also keep your mind healthy, do activities that help you relax, such as meditation, reading a book or listening to music. Self-isolation is also the perfect opportunity for you to do the things around the house you don’t normally have a chance to, such as cleaning, reorganising your wardrobe or finishing off that craft project you started 7 months ago.
Gold Coast dentist open during the Coronavirus pandemic
Oasis Dental Studio’s Gold Coast dental practices are still currently in full operation, providing dental treatments to patients who are feeling well, have not been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or returned from overseas from 15 March 2020 within 2 weeks of their appointment. Circumstances could change at any time, so please don’t delay booking in for your essential dental treatments while you still have access to them, such as check-ups, root canal treatment or wisdom teeth removal.
Contact us today to find out more or to book an appointment: