In many ways, Covid-19 has caused us all to take a step back and reassess our basic hygiene habits. From washing hands to social distancing, we are more aware than ever about taking general precautions in order for us to stay healthy. This should also be applied to our dental care. Lack of daily routine and change of eating and sleeping habits can throw a once healthy mouth into a tailspin. Not to mention, concerns of Covid exposure can also lead to patients avoiding the dentist all together.
Stress, Lifestyle Changes and Poor Dental Habits During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Factors such as stress, poor diet, alcohol and tobacco use, substance misuse, behavioral health issues have been heightened during the pandemic. These and other health factors can worsen chronic disease and poor oral health.
“We have seen the stress of this situation leading to more patients complaining of jaw issues,” Says Dr. Tina Ressler of Virginia Family Dentistry, “Patients are concerned with nighttime clenching and grinding. They are also showing other symptoms like clicking and popping, pointing towards TMJ concerns.”
“Some of these issues can cause chips or fractures in the teeth,” says Dr. Ressler, “Night guards can help alleviate some of this pressure we’re putting on our teeth when we’re stressed.”
Lack of Schedule and Structure in a Teen’s Lifestyle Takes a toll on the Teeth
With many teens being left to their own devices throughout the day, their lack of schedule coupled with late nights has thrown off their dental routines. They are going to bed late, forgetting to brush, and sleeping in with their mouths filling with bacteria. Waking up late doesn’t help either because they are already thrown off and jump start their day in midafternoon – forgetting that crucial dental hygiene component of the morning.
“We are also seeing many more cases of mouths in need of deeper cleanings because of more plaque build-up and gum inflammation. Mostly due in part to routines being thrown off and concerns of Covid,” says Doctor Tina Ressler at Virginia Family Dentistry. “Although this happens with adults, it is mostly apparent in teenagers and we have a name for it – we call it ‘Covid crud’.”
Working From Home Pros and Cons
Most people find working from home can mean a longer, more productive day. Working from home can also impact one’s dental hygiene – rolling out of bed, hopping on that Zoom call and forgetting the usual morning routine. Snacking increases throughout the day and half way through the afternoon, we find ourselves on auto pilot and forgetting the self-care to-dos of the morning which can continue until nighttime.
Here are a few tips to help you get back in the dental care habit:
- Brushing in the morning is not just good for a clean mouth, it’s a good pick-me-up!
- Set an alarm twice a day to stay on track with your brushing and (once) for flossing.
- Choose snacks wisely – limit sticky, gummy sugary snacks.
- Pace yourself! Frequent snacking (without brushing in between) increases your risk of cavities.
- Limit late night snacking. Not only is this good for your mouth, it’s good for the rest of your body.
- Limit sugary drinks. Instead wash those snacks down with plenty of water. This will help keep the bacteria growth at bay and wash any particles away.
- Wear your night guard or talk to your dentist about wearing one.
Safety Precautions at the Dentist
The American Dental Association deems dentistry as essential medical care because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect one’s overall systemic health. A reputable dental practice will be following the guidelines and standards set for by the American Dental Association and Center for Disease Control to keep its patients and staff safe and healthy as we navigate through this pandemic.
At Virginia Family Dentistry we are actually going above and beyond the standards to keep everyone safe. Our patients’ and teams’ health is our number one concern and until you can get to your appointment, we encourage all of our patients to reestablish their oral care routines to keep their mouths as healthy as possible. Maintaining a proper hygiene routine, including semiannual visits will prevent bigger problems in the future.