Routine dental appointments may be postponed, but there’s still plenty you can do at home!
In accordance with American Dental Association recommendations, dental offices across the country have temporarily closed for non-urgent dental care. This means those appointments you usually schedule on ahead for your family—routine exams or cleanings and any treatment appointments for asymptomatic or non-painful issues—will be rescheduled for a later time.
Your family’s oral health is always an important matter, but these restrictions make staying on top of everyone’s at-home oral care routines especially crucial right now. Being very mindful of your oral care will prevent new issues from forming and can help existing issues, such as a non-painful cavity, from worsening during the wait.
Here are 10 effective and simple ways to keep your family’s teeth as healthy as possible until your dentist can resume business as normal.
1. Eating a nutritious diet is the foundation of a healthy smile.
Your diet and oral health may be more connected than you realize. A poor diet doesn’t just increase the chances of cavities and tooth decay, but it also increases your risk for periodontal disease, oral cancers, ulcers, and chronic dry mouth.
Indulging in a sweet treat is fine, but basing your family’s meals and snacks on a wholesome diet will really help keep everyone’s teeth strong and prevent oral health issues from arising. Your family should be especially mindful of its sugar and starch consumption as they have the strongest connection to tooth decay.
As a bonus, a healthy diet is also one of the best ways to boost your family’s immune system.
2. Swap out juices, sodas, and other beverages for fresh water as often as possible.
Beverages also make up a big part of your family’s diet, so be mindful of how much sugar may be coming from drinks. Limiting soda is a given, but juice can be just as bad for your teeth due to the high levels of sugar and fruit acids.
Make water your family’s go-to beverage. Staying hydrated is important for overall health and helps keep your teeth in tip-top shape by preventing dry mouth. Sparkling water is a nice change, but be sure to check the nutritional label for hidden sugars or citric acid.
3. Chew a stick of sugar-free gum after snacks or after meals when you can’t brush.
A handy trick for keeping teeth clean after eating or drinking is to chew a stick of sugar-free gum. Chewing gum doesn’t replace brushing, but the xylitol in sugar-free gum helps inhibit bacterial growth that causes tooth decay and helps keep saliva flowing in the mouth.
Not all sugar-free gum has xylitol, so be sure to check the label. Here is the ADA’s list of recommended chewing gum brands.
4. Consider stopping any plans for at-home tooth whitening until things are back to normal.
Although whitening your teeth at home with ADA-approved options is generally very safe, it’s not a bad idea to wait to whiten your teeth until things are back to normal. This is especially true if you’ve never whitened your teeth before or you’ve experienced sensitivity in the past.
It’s possible for misused whitening products to damage tooth enamel or cause very painful sensitivity. Since dental offices are only open for emergencies to protect staff and patients, it’s best to play it safe and put your whitening plans on hold.
5. Stress can lead to dental issues, so encourage plenty of self-care and stress-relief practices.
Right now, life is pretty stressful. Not only does stress affect how you feel emotionally, but it also affects our bodies physically. Chronic stress can even affect our oral health in the form of damage caused by grinding or clenching our teeth (bruxism) or TMJ. Stress can even cause or exacerbate gum disease.
Keep stress at bay by encouraging everyone in your family to practice self-care through quiet time, breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, or a good oldfashioned bubble bath.
6. Taking both a calcium and vitamin D supplement will help keep your teeth strong.
Taking a multivitamin is a great idea for preventive health care, but not all multivitamins are created equal. In fact, some popular brands don’t have optimum levels of calcium and may even be missing vitamin D, which are two of the most important supplements for oral health. If you’re worried you may not be getting enough vitamin D or calcium in your diet, it’s a good idea to supplement it.
Be sure to take both of these, as vitamin D is necessary for proper calcium absorption.
7. Buy new toothbrushes for everyone if it’s been over three months or if someone has been sick recently.
There’s nothing like a new toothbrush to get kids and adults excited about brushing. Toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months or as soon as the bristles begin to fray. However, if anyone in your family has been sick, it’s important to replace their toothbrush right after they get better.
When shopping for new toothbrushes, look for options that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
8. Make bedtime brushing a family event, especially if you have young kids.
Getting the entire family together in the bathroom to brush before bed is an awesome idea for three reasons. First, it gets youngsters excited about brushing and helps reinforce oral care as a normal habit. Second, it gives you a chance as a parent to make sure everyone is brushing properly. And third, it’s a great chance to bond as a family.
You can make brushing really fun for kids by turning it into a two-minute dance-off and letting them take turns playing their favorite music.
9. Use a tongue scraper before brushing, and finish with an ADA-recommended mouthwash afterward.
If your family doesn’t already use a tongue scraper and mouthwash, now is a great time to make it a habit.
Using a tongue scraper before brushing helps remove bacteria and prevent bad breath. Afterward, you can floss your teeth and then brush thoroughly for at least two minutes. To finish, swish for at least 30 seconds with an ADA-approved mouthwash. Mouthwash is effective at reducing decay, plaque buildup, and bad breath.
If you or a family member has gingivitis, look for a therapeutic mouthwash designed specifically for gum health.
10. If you know of a cavity, gum inflammation, or another non-urgent issue, take care to brush and floss after snacks and meals.
Unless you’re in pain, your dentist will most likely postpone filling a cavity or performing a deep pocket cleaning for gingivitis. If you’re aware of an untreated issue or suspect something may be wrong, it’s really important to do as much as you can to keep your teeth clean. Flossing and brushing after every snack, meal, or sugary beverage goes a long way while you wait to see your dentist.
The Tooth Doc team is currently out of the office, but we are still here for your family’s emergency dental needs.
As with most other dental offices in Omaha, Nebraska, The Tooth Doc team is keeping staff and patients safe by limiting appointments to emergencies only. This simple PDF designed by the American Dental Association offers insight into what constitutes a dental emergency or urgent dental care. To put it most simply, an urgent/emergency situation would be if you or a family member is experiencing severe pain, swelling, or bleeding.
If someone in your family needs urgent or emergency dental treatment, please call our office number to schedule an appointment.