As we approach the ages of 60 and over, our oral health needs start to change. Unfortunately, the risk of gum disease increases and so does the risk of decay and loss of teeth. With these risks comes an increased need for regular dental check-ups for preventative care and treatment. However, during Covid-19, when dental practices are restricted to emergency treatment only, it’s important to understand how to maintain and manage oral care at home.
Whilst a dental practice is restricted in the level of care it can provide at this time, it’s important to remember you should not suffer through any pain. Contact your local dental practice should you experience any of the following symptoms:
• Swelling of the jaw, face or neck
• Ongoing pain
• Profuse bleeding
• Significantly damaged teeth, caused by an accident
• Trauma to the mouth
• Mouth lesions.
Amid the Covid-19 lockdown, you may have to miss one of your preventative care appointments, however it’s important that you monitor your oral health with vigilant at-home care, and pay meticulous attention to any worrying changes. During this period of isolation and stress, your body can have an exaggerated response to the normal bacteria’s in your mouth.
Ensure you’re brushing twice a day and taking the time to clean between your teeth. If you wear a denture make sure it’s taken out each night and soaked in a denture cleaner (if you cannot access this product at the moment, I recommend one-part vinegar to four-parts water). When leaving your denture in at night, you risk suffering from denture-induced stomatitis. This is when there’s a build-up of fungus which can cause inflammation of the tissues under your denture. Continue to use a fluoride toothpaste at home and when you have finished brushing, spit but don’t rinse — that way you can sleep with the fluoride on your teeth.
Another problem for many people entering later stages in life is use of more medications which can lead to dry mouth. Besides the obvious discomfort of not having enough saliva, dry mouth also increases the risk of dental decay in your teeth. Saliva acts as a coat of amour for your teeth, stopping the acids and sugars we consume throughout the day from attacking your enamel. When you have a low saliva flow there is less of a defence mechanism for your teeth and therefore your risk of decay increases.
If you are experiencing a dry mouth, it’s important not to ignore it. There are mouth rinses and toothpastes available to assist in increasing your saliva flow. It’s a good idea to phone your dental practice and they can recommend products for purchase at the chemist or in some cases the practice themselves. It’s always important to mention changes in your mouth at every dental appointment.
During times of stress and anxiety, our bodies can react in an exaggerated way to plaque in our mouths. This can cause inflammation. If we combine this with poor eating habits and a decline in home care, it can lead to poor oral health outcomes. If you experience bleeding gums at home, it’s important not to ignore it. Increase your brushing, remember to keep cleaning between your teeth and call your regular dentist or use an online tele-dentistry service for advice. It’s also very important to limit excessive consumption of sugary and acidic beverages, which are known to increase the risk of decay.
Finally, it’s important to schedule a visit to your dental hygienist for a clean when businesses reopen, as they use high-pressure air, powder and water devices such as Airflow technology to get rid of any stubborn stains.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.