5 Ways To Improve Your Oral Health During Quarantine

woman brushing teeth looking in the mirror

Due to the stay-at-home safety precautions, many dental offices are only seeing emergency patients right now, meaning your dental cleaning appointment may have been postponed.  

So, until it is safe to resume routine dental cleanings, you should start working extra hard at home… and no excuses because you now have that extra time! ;)

1) Brush After Every Meal

I’m sure you’ve heard the rule to brush at least two times a day.  The “at least” is key!  We can really up our games right now with the brushing since we’re at home.  So, in addition to brushing in the morning and at night - brushing after every meal is ideal, including a third brushing session after lunch.  

When we’re at work, lots of us are unable to brush after lunch because it’s not always practical. But, now that we’re at home - it is super practical! Consider taking the time to brush after every meal.[1]

2) Limit Snacking

Speaking of brushing after every meal… lots of us have been snacking more than normal during this quarantine.  Snacking is the absolute worst for our teeth, especially throughout the day.  It’s actually healthier for your teeth to eat all the snacks at once (like take a designated snack break) versus snacking throughout the day.  You don’t want any debris, especially sugar and carbohydrates, to sit on your teeth for a prolonged period of time.  

So, if you do snack - try to do it all at once AND make sure you’re drinking lots of water throughout the day.  

3) Drink More Water

Not only does water help remove the debris from your teeth, but it also helps keep your body overall healthy.  If you can, try to swish it around your mouth to help remove debris from your teeth.  We all realize that water is healthy… but what lots of us don’t realize is that our oral health is directly connected to our overall health!  Water is good on so many levels, so try to drink as much as you can.

4) Clean Between Your Teeth 

If you’re not a flosser, which most people are unfortunately not - start flossing! Now’s the time to create a new routine, right?! Quarantine = new routine. This phrase is popular on social media regarding exercising and working out …but dental hygienists will be the first to inform you that “working out your gums” is the best analogy for flossing.[2]

Flossing keeps your gums healthy and firm.  So, it’s in your best interest to add “working out your gums” to your new list of daily tasks during quarantine.

If you truly can’t get into flossing - consider trying floss picks.  It’s a great place to start the habit of flossing.  Or even better - consider trying interdental aids.  Interdental aids are a great alternative to flossing.  Another option is to try adding a water flosser to your routine.  Just remember that water flossers are super beneficial for healthy gums, however many dental hygienists will recommend patients to also use either traditional string floss or interdental aids in addition to water flossers to help prevent cavities.  

Again - now is the time because we have the time!  If you are someone who wants to go above and beyond with your home care right now, then use them all!  

Just make sure you are using SOMETHING to clean between your teeth daily with the proper techniques.  This is especially important if you had to miss your last dental appointment!

5) Allow Toothpaste To Stay On Your Teeth

Try to remember to leave the toothpaste on your teeth after you brush.  The idea behind this is that if you’re using a fluoride toothpaste - after you brush you rinse it off right away, rinsing away all the benefits of the fluoride toothpaste.  So try to remember after brushing to spit and NOT rinse with water after.  

If the texture of toothpaste on your teeth bothers you, try putting your night guard and/or retainer in your mouth right away after brushing (with the toothpaste still on your teeth).  But if you are someone who just can’t get into it, maybe you don’t have a night guard to cover up the texture or you keep forgetting to not rinse - then definitely consider using a fluoride mouth wash before bed.  

Rinse with the mouth wash and then spit but don’t eat or drink anything for 30 minutes after. You want to let the mouthwash sit on your teeth so it can do its job to help prevent cavities.[3]

Improving Your Home Care Routine

All of these things together may be overwhelming, so the best advice is to start slow.  Start by adding one thing - even if it’s as simple as brushing after lunch.  Adding one extra brushing session a day can help so so so much.  Or, maybe the best you can do right now is to focus on drinking more water.  Each effort counts!  You don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of new products right now.  It’s fine to use what you have!  But, if you do happen to find an old water flosser in your closet - consider plugging it in, you know?!   You’d be surprised on how many patients tell their dental providers that they might actually have a recommended dental product stored away somewhere in their house.

In all, do the best you can at home until we’re safe to get back into the dental office.  Who knows…  maybe you’ll impress your dental hygienist on how well you’ve been taking care of your teeth!  Wouldn’t that feel good if the dental hygienist was like, “Wow your teeth look great!” and you were like, “Yeah, I’ve upped my home care game!”