COVID-19 has taken the world by storm. It’s the pandemic that no one was prepared for. As of writing this, there are currently 3.759,967 cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
With over a quarter-million deaths so far, the virus shows no intention of pulling its punches. While staying home, wearing a mask when you must go out, and washing your hands frequently are the best ways to flatten the curve, that’s not all there is to it.
The dental aspect should also be considered, and that’s exactly what this article will help you do. We’ll go over some safety tips, teach quarantine etiquette, and help you figure out what to do with your scheduled dental appointments.
Just because you’re stuck at home, that doesn’t mean you can neglect your oral health. You should still be brushing your teeth twice a day, gargling with mouthwash, and flossing. The only thing worse than being quarantined is being quarantined while you have gum disease.
There’s no need to hoard toothpaste though since each ounce will last you around a month. We’d recommend that you refrain from buying a stockpile so as to not deplete your store’s stock. Leaving supplies for the next person is important since we’re all in this together.
It can be easy to laze around all day when there’s no school, work, or social gatherings to get out of bed for. That being said, a sedentary lifestyle is the last thing you’d want to adopt during a global pandemic.
Exercising can boost your immune system so that you have a better chance of beating the virus should you contract it. Regular exercise will also stave off heart disease and lung problems — which is essential since any underlying conditions could put you at a higher risk of becoming the next COVID-19 fatality.
Lastly, you should ensure that you’re eating nutritious meals so you can stay in top shape while waiting the pandemic out. Living off junk food for the full duration of the quarantine would be highly detrimental to your health.
Read the WHO’s recommendation on what qualifies as a healthy diet. We’d also advise that you steer clear of acidic, sugar-filled beverages like soda during this trying time. Check out our piece on The Dangers of Acidity in Beverages on Teeth to learn more.
Quarantining yourself at home, staying six feet away from others, wearing masks, and frequent handwashing are all proven ways to reduce your odds of contracting SARS-CoV-2, but there are some other safety tips that you should also bear in mind.
Dr. David Johnson’s video commentary on Medscape talked about the risk of COVID-19 spreading through aerosolized viral particles that are released into the air when a toilet is flushed.
These toilet-related concerns certainly hold water seeing as SARS-CoV-2 can persist in stool long after respiratory samples have tested negative and research in China indicates fecal-oral transmission.
This is why it’s imperative that you put the lid down prior to flushing your toilet. Some people use the flush-and-run approach in an effort to escape the area before any aerosolized particles get the chance to reach them.
However, that approach is ill-advised because even if you evade the viral particles, the other items in your bathroom will not. The aerosolized droplets can land flush on your toothbrush. Seeing as the virus can survive on surfaces for three to four days, ingestion would be inevitable.
Viral particles can also make their way into your toilet via backflow — meaning you could become infected through fecal-oral transmission even if no one in your house has the virus. Because the virus persists in stool, “recovered” patients may infect relatives through flushing.
Finally, you should avoid public toilets since they pose a high risk for inhalation of aerosolized viral particles due to the larger number of people that use them. Fomite transmission is also likely in public toilets, and the last thing you want to do is get the virus on your phone screen.
Speaking of contaminated toothbrushes, you should avoid sharing yours with other people in the household. As many as 50% of those with COVID-19 don’t know they have the virus, so you have to err on the side of caution and assume everyone is infected.
The last thing you want is an asymptomatic carrier getting their saliva and blood on your toothbrush as that’s a free ticket to Corona Town. Disinfecting toothbrushes regularly can reduce the odds of transmission between those who live in the same home.
Other toothbrush safety measures such as avoiding side-by-side storage and making sure the tip of the toothpaste tube doesn’t touch your brush can likewise lower the risk of domestic transmission.
Due to the highly contagious nature of the COVID-19 pathogen, you can expect most of your dental clinic appointments to be canceled for the greater good. Non-essential visits like check-ups and teeth cleanings will just have to wait until humanity gets back on its feet.
The only time you should even think about going to the dentist amidst this pandemic is if you have a dental emergency like a knocked-out adult tooth. Cracks and toothaches can be managed at home by following some tips from the American Dental Association.
You can also get your questions answered over the phone by calling your dentist. Alternatively, video conferencing apps like Zoom or Nextiva can provide the perfect platform for teledentistry. Lincoln Park Smiles has already taken its service to the virtual realm (more on this down below.)
We don’t have a vaccine for the virus yet, so the best thing you can do is remain in the safety of your own home as much as possible. As Benjamin Franklin said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
LPS will be closed until further notice to prevent community transmission in Chicago. You can still call us at (312) 236-9325 to set up a no-cost virtual consultation though, should you need it. Remember, healthy habits make for a COVID-free respiratory system!