For many of us, our responsibilities have shifted from work to home-based work and a host of other time-draining demands: teaching, shopping, cooking, cleaning (cleaning, cleaning!), home improvement and adjusting our homes to accommodate home-based offices. With exercise, church, restaurants and social facilities shut down, we are faced with the daunting reality of who we really are – stripped of our social identity and engagements.
As your dentist, I am asking that you look at yourself in the mirror and remember that your oral health is a defining characteristic of who you are and one that can be improved dramatically – even now!
Yes, our team is essential for ensuring that your cleaning and flossing routines are Olympic-worthy, that your mouth is healthy and that the aesthetics of your smile are at their height, but, can you imagine “coming out” of this pandemic lock-down with teeth and a smile that boast your renewed commitment and revamped regime of oral health care?
Here is your checklist. Let’s go!
1) BRUSH YOUR TEETH
Use a timer for at least 2 minutes a day, at least 2 times a day.
Just as the pandemic focus on hand washing has specified a minimum “20 second” lathering period to make your hands appear as “white gloves” (and either give you a chance to chant the “Our Father” or a stanza from your favorite tune), so a thorough brushing should be done using a timer to ensure proper coverage. Youthful dental implements that are “like new” in appearance – regularly replaced toothbrushes or toothbrush heads on electric devices – should be used. You will enjoy how much cleaner your mouth and gums feel when you invest the time to indulge them in a cleaning that is thorough, administered with the proper implements and is not rushed. Not only should this be done AT LEAST morning and night, but, now that many of you are working and living more of your days at home, a tango with your toothbrush should happen after meals and snacking – no excuses!
2) FLOSS ONCE A DAY
At least once a day. It will truly free your teeth from food particles that the toothbrush may miss. A poor or non-existent flossing routine will leave gums prone to disease and decay; this is a cumulative condition, so while your gums may “appear” okay, continued neglect of your gums will catch up to you in ways that will wreak havoc on your smile and overall appearance.
More than 500 species of bacteria reside in the human mouth and, while some are good bacteria, there is an army of bacteria that are regularly destroying good oral health in the mouths of those of you who are “too busy” to floss or do not respond well to the initial “pain” of flossing. Just like an overweight body struggles with the workout in the beginning but achieves a level of fitness with consistent exercise, so your gums will “get in shape” when you floss regularly.
3) RINSE WITH FLOURIDE RINSE
Do this every day. Fluoride fights plaque, tooth decay, and is vital for oral health. A wide flavor variety of rinses are affordable and available at nearly every grocery store, so there is no reason that fluoride rinsing should be absent from your daily dental regime. Just be certain to use one that is recommended by the ADA (it will be clearly labeled on the container).
4) MONITOR YOUR DIET
Limit sugar and starch intake as foods high in these ingredients will promote tooth decay and gum disease. Alternately, foods that bolster your dental health are those loaded with nutrients and calcium.
Dairy, vegetables (nutrient-rich dark leafy ones like spinach and kale as well as carrots and celery) and fatty fish and tofu – both high in phosphorus which protects tooth enamel, are good staples to have on the menu.
Also pass on fruit juice (loaded with sugar) in favor of the fruit itself, and minimize processed foods, whose starch and additives will again have a negative impact not only on your oral health, but your overall health. Drink plenty of water as your elixir of choice and enjoy those crunchy veggies that stimulate saliva production to lower the acidity in your mouth and minimize tooth decay.
5) BREAK OUT THE WHITENING TRAYS!
Now is a perfect time to regularly bleach your teeth as past time constraints are lifted with most of us staying at home. With regular use, a consistent whitening tray regime will result in a dazzling smile.
Our time during this shutdown is the perfect opportunity for you to re-invest in these practices with renewed vim and vigor!
I would be delighted to revisit you at your next scheduled appointment and observe the positive changes whose effects will last a lifetime. Take the lemons we have been handed with the Corona Virus and with it make lemonade (but just don’t drink it if it’s loaded with sugar!) – a refreshing glass of water will make your body smile instead!
Dr. Chris B. Theodorou and Team
Strongsville Dental & Laser Aesthetics