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Can’t visit the dentist? Here’s how to take better care of your teeth Health and well-being



For many of us, the routine trip to the dentist is just one of the ways our lives are disrupted in 2020. The British Dental Association (BDA) estimates that since the blockade in March, dentists in England have provided nearly 19 million less treatment from the same period last year.

What do you need to know about dental emergencies and what more can you do to take care of your teeth? We asked the experts.

What dental services are currently available?

Although some routine dental treatments are now available again, in the UK the operative capacity of surgeries has been reduced and some are subjecting patients to the level of need and risk.

If you want to visit your dentist, it is advisable to contact them by phone or email to see if you need to visit. For up-to-date advice on accessing dental care in the UK, see the NHS website.

What is the risk of catching a coronavirus at the dentist?

Although they are thought to be at high risk for Covid-1

9 infection, a recent study of nearly 2,200 American dentists found that less than 1% were positive in June. Professor Damien Walmsley, a scientific adviser to the BDA, says that dentists’ routine attention to controlling infections puts them at an advantage. “It’s almost second nature to us.”

An increased potential risk of transmitting coronavirus is the use of instruments such as dental drills or ultrasonic scalers, which create a fine mist.

How do dentists adapt?

The profession is still adapting its procedures as it becomes increasingly known about the spread of the virus. For example, some dentists have switched to hand tools that are slower but create less spray. “It’s all a bit of a compromise,” Walmsley said.

Access to services is improving. In England, set-aside time, during which the treatment room must remain empty after each aerosol generation procedure, has recently been reduced from an hour to 15-20 minutes (depending on ventilation), which allows dentists to see more patients. .

What can I do to take care of my teeth until I can get to the dentist?

“Most dental problems are preventable,” says Walmsley. Brushing your teeth in the morning and at night, for two minutes each time, will usually be enough to prevent caries and gum disease. However, studies show that people read an average of 43 seconds. “Four minutes a day is not much to ask for,” said Dr. Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation.

A person showing children how to brush their teeth
We need to brush our teeth for two minutes twice a day. Photo: 10,000 hours / Getty images

What toothpaste should I use?

Any fluoride toothpaste will do the job. Not only does it help prevent tooth decay, but it slows the rate of progression of any existing tooth decay. Carter is concerned about the growing availability of “natural” fluoride-free toothpastes. Water fluoridation is not widespread in the UK, “so we really need that protection,” he says.

Is it a good idea to switch to an electric toothbrush?

What you wash with is less important than the brush. Walmsley says a hand-held toothbrush is just as effective as a power toothbrush if you brush for two minutes, twice a day. However, some electric toothbrushes have a timer – or even an application – to help you get deeper. “From personal experience, I can say that it moved me from 1.5 minutes to 2 minutes,” Carter said of his electric toothbrush.

How often should I change my toothbrush?

Dentists recommend changing your toothbrush or brush head every three months. Very few people do. “As a nation, we use 1,2, 1,3 heads a year,” Carter said. “There are very, very old, torn toothbrushes out there.”

Does brushing your teeth reduce the risk of coronavirus?

Martin Adi, an honorary professor of dentistry at the University of Bristol, argues that more frequent brushing along with hand washing should be encouraged to protect against coronavirus, as antimicrobial agents in toothpaste and mouthwash are reduced. bacteria in the mouth.

A link to the brush has not yet been substantiated, but a study by Cardiff University last week found “promising signs” that mouthwash could help kill the coronavirus. Further research is underway on how oral hygiene may reduce the risk of coronavirus

What else can I do but clean thoroughly?

If you already use thread regularly, stick to it. If you haven’t made it a habit yet, get a few interdental brushes that are easier to use than floss. Cleaning between the teeth is especially important if you have a history of gum disease. Do it before washing.

What else should I keep in mind?

“Be aware of what you eat and when it’s also vital to a healthy mouth,” says Nairie Whitley, clinical director of the dental care group, a dentist. Many people consume more sugar and alcohol during a pandemic, which is detrimental to oral health for an extended period of time. Whitley suggests limiting snacks and consuming sugar only as part of the diet.

Threads before cleaning.
Threads before cleaning. Photo: PeopleImages / Getty Images

My gums bleed after washing and flossing. Should I be worried?

People may be put off by this, especially when starting a new oral care regimen, but Carter’s advice is to insist. “This is not an indication that you are brushing too hard: it probably means that you have not washed well enough.” Bleeding indicates some level of gum disease and will probably stop as your gums become healthier.

Whitley says dentists report that patients’ gum disease has worsened in the months between the first lock and mid-year practices: “It’s a good reminder of how quickly gum disease can get worse.”

Can I repeat at home a professional hygienist?

This is a “do-it-yourself dentistry” fallacy, says Walmsley. Even with his experience, he knows better than to try dentistry on himself. “You can easily get in trouble,” he says. If there is visible plaque or tartar around your neck, talk to your dentist about the possibility of reserving a scale and varnish.

I think I’m gnashing my teeth. What can I do?

This has been reported to have become more common during the pandemic due to rising stress levels. If you know you tend to clench your jaw while concentrating or are stressed during the day, realizing this may be enough to break the habit, Carter says.

Sleep grinding, known as bruxism, is harder to deal with. You may not even know you’re doing it unless you share a bed, but it can cause insomnia, facial pain, and headaches. Your dentist will be able to find out if you are doing any damage to your teeth and suggest possible treatments.

How do I know if I have emergency dental care?

A broken tooth without the associated pain is usually not an emergency, Walmsley said. If you have broken or lost a filling, crown, or veneer, you can get an emergency repair kit from a chemist to prompt you until you can talk to your dentist. Toothache can be relieved with paracetamol or ibuprofen.

“Urgent dental needs can include swelling of the face that extends to the eye or neck, bleeding after extraction that doesn’t stop, toothache that prevents eating or sleeping, or trauma that leads to bleeding or fractures,” Whitley said. In the UK, call your dentist on his or her emergency number or 111.

I broke a tooth. What to do?

This is also a high priority: a knocked out adult tooth can usually be re-implanted if a dentist can reach it quickly. “The longer the tooth is out of the mouth, the greater the chance that the body will reject it,” says Walmsley.

Holding the tooth to the crown, not the root, try to return it to the opening of the gum. Bite gently on a clean towel to hold it in place. If the tooth does not fall easily, place it in a container with milk or saliva (adults can also keep it in their cheek). “Don’t wash it under the tap – you want to keep all the small cells and particles of the body around it,” says Walmsley. If you can’t find the tooth, still seek emergency help.

What else should I watch out for?

Symptoms of oral cancer can be “annoying but manageable,” warns Whitley, who suspects that because people’s perception is that they have only a minor problem, they “just put off getting help.” If you have mouth ulcers that do not heal within a few weeks, or unexplained, persistent lumps in your mouth or lymph glands (in the neck area), contact your dentist or doctor.

I usually go to the dentist twice a year. How worried should I be about this vacation?

“For people who walk regularly and have nothing more than an examination, scaling and polishing, there’s really nothing to worry about,” says Carter. For the past 15 years, the profession has sought to extend the interval between check-ups for these healthier patients as the rate of breakdown decreases.

You need to talk to your dentist about how often you should see them, taking into account your patients’ history, Carter said. If you have good oral hygiene, you may only need to go once every two to three years. If you miss the regime, now is the perfect time to improve it, he says. The dentist “is not the service that does everything for you – you have to be responsible for your own oral health.”


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