Greg Grobmyer, DDS
All throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been forced to avoid certain activities. Unfortunately, oral bacteria don’t take breaks. They “work from home” just as well. Let’s not stop focusing on dental care, even if we visit a dentist less often.
We all know to clean our teeth twice a day, but we should pay more attention to certain details in how we brush. Each brushing session should take about 2 minutes, and not much longer. Over-brushing can damage enamel and may lead to cavities.
The brushing technique is also important: choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and hold it at a 45 degree angle to your teeth. This will allow the brush to sweep away what hides under the gumline.
A common mistake is reaching for a toothbrush right after eating. Acids in your mouth can temporarily soften tooth enamel. This may allow brushing to damage the surface of your teeth. Wait to brush for at least 30 (or better, 60) minutes after a meal. If you need fresh breath right away, use sugar-free chewing gum.
Change your toothbrush frequently
This is especially important when we are exposed to colds, the flu, and (more recently) coronavirus. You should replace your toothbrush every three to four months to prevent bacteria accumulation. Throw it away after having an infection to avoid recontamination.
Take care of your toothbrush. Seventy-five percent of Americans store their toothbrushes too close to the toilet. If the distance is shorter than 3 feet, it’s likely to collect fecal matter on the bristles. It’s best to keep your toothbrush in an upright position, in the open air, which will allow it to dry quickly. Remember to also close the lid on your toilet before you flush.
Eat with your teeth in mind
It’s not a mystery that sugary foods and drinks negatively affect oral health. But what snacks are good for your teeth? Cheese and other dairy products are rich in calcium and help to strengthen enamel. Spinach can minimize tooth sensitivity. Crunchy, raw vegetables and fruits act as natural toothbrushes. Scrub away bacteria with apples, carrots, and celery.
Drink plenty of water — this popular advice applies to dental health as well. It washes down food particles and cavity-causing bacteria that feed on them. Good hydration prevents dry mouth. This condition is a source of many oral problems.