During this lockdown period we thought it would be helpful to provide some advice on Oral tips which you can use whilst we remain shut for face to face exams and treatments. Hopefully these tips will get you through the next few weeks until we are able to reopen and resume all dental services.
Here are a few areas of guidance to help keep teeth healthy and avoid dental pain and help reduce dental pain should you develop it; without having to leave your house.
We’re all isolating at home so making the right food choices is extremely important at this time, by making some conscious changes you can help reduce damage to your teeth.
When making food choices try to keep all sugars and acids to only mealtimes and aim for no more than three to four sugar/acidic attacks per day.
To maintain optimal oral health through foods, eat things like oily fish, milk, broccoli, spinach, oranges, nuts, carrots, eggs and avocado (avoid processed foods and refined carbohydrates including white bread, pasta and processed meats). Safe snacks in between meals include nuts, cheese, fresh vegetables and yoghurt.
If you can, cut back on red wine and coffee. Your body will thank you and so will your teeth.
Also chewing gum is not just for freshening breath. Sugar free gum or mints increase salivary flow, which can neutralise plaque acids, help remove debris, strengthen teeth and reduce dry mouth. Opt for products containing Xylitol as an ingredient, as it can help fight tooth decay.
It is important to remember to brush your teeth before breakfast and before bed. Use a small, medium texture bristle toothbrush placed on the margin of your teeth and gums and use a small vibrating movement to break up the bacteria and plaque.
Toothbrushes are not capable of reaching in-between teeth to remove unwanted debris. In total, brushing only cleans about 60% of our teeth. However, interdental cleaning with floss or brushes helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which can occur when food and plaque are left lodged between teeth.
If you have the space between your teeth, then opt for interdental brushes and always use the biggest size possible – you may need more than one brush size. If your teeth are tight together then dental floss is recommended. Try and do this once a day, preferably at night and in front of the mirror.
Do not forget your tongue! To avoid bad breath, clean your tongue once daily with your toothbrush or a tongue scrapper.
Mouthwash is not a replacement for brushing, but it can be a useful disinfectant, especially when there is a killer virus going around. Studies have shown that hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes have antiviral properties which could help to kill viruses such as Covid-19, which have been shown to live in the mouth and throat for approximately four days. Don’t worry if you can’t get hold of it though - a simple saltwater mouthwash is a good homemade alternative.
Clean removable dental appliances and dentures with cleansing tablets or solutions. Ensure that they are disinfected every day.
The stress during lockdown can sometimes lead to problems such as ulcers, dry mouth and jaw joint problems due to grinding of the teeth or gum diseases. If it is worrying you, do contact us. Most importantly, avoid stress.
Here are a few things you can try to help manage pain from teeth, gums, ulcers and/or broken teeth until you can see us:
Pain from teeth (including wisdom teeth)
Pain from gums
If there is bacteria or food debris trapped between the gum and the tooth, this can cause pain. Clean the area thoroughly with floss or an interdental brush. You could put Corsodyl gel onto the brush to help clean the area.
Rinse thoroughly with Corsodyl or Chlorohexidine mouthwash can help (but these will stain your teeth so we don’t recommend this for long term use).
Pain from ulcers
Mouth ulcers can be a sign of underlying medical conditions such as iron deficiency so shouldn't be ignored. Any mouth ulcer which don’t heal in two weeks should be checked by a dentist.
To reduce the discomfort, you can try any anaesthetic gel such as Orajel, Bonjela or Anbesol. To help with healing of ulcers, you can try Gengigel which can be effective and also help to sooth the pain.
Pain from broken teeth
If a tooth or filling has chipped or cracked, this can cause sensitivity from the tooth being exposed or pain to your tongue from sharp edges. The sensitivity can be reduced by rubbing a de-sensitising toothpaste onto the tooth or placing temporary filling material (available over the counter from any pharmacy or online) over the broken corner until a more definitive filling can be placed.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dental practices around the world are closed, we are currently running a dental emergency telephone consultation service for patients. Dental emergencies are classed as:
If you are worried please contact us and we can give you advice and triage your problem to the appropriate treatment method during this time or call NHS 111.