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The right way to Take Care of Your Tooth Throughout Self-Isolation

Usually people welcome a reason to cancel a dentist appointment like sGetting into this chair is often painful and expensive.

Now you may have a valid excuse to stay away from the dentist's chair because the American Dental Association has canceled all elective dental treatments until at least May 8th.

But that doesn't mean you are off the hook when it comes to caring for your teeth. Now is the time to practice better dental hygiene at home so that later, when self-isolation is over, you won't have to pay big bills for damaged teeth.

You now have plenty of time to floss and floss

Sam Emrich, a North Carolina-based dentist who owns the Emrich Family Dentistry in Raleigh and is a partner at the Clayton Dental Center in Clayton, says people should be careful not to neglect their teeth now.

"Since" social distancing "is the buzzword, you still want to take care of yourself so you don't smell your bad breath a meter away," he said. "Any food that gets caught between your teeth and around the gum line, if not cleaned and flossed regularly and properly, can lead to natural social distancing."

Dentists, including Emrich, recommend flossing in the morning and evening and brushing for about two minutes after each meal.

While this may sound obvious, the reality is that many people are neglected. Emrich estimates that 98% of his patients intend to practice these healthy habits, but probably about 55% are actually doing it correctly.

Not sure if you brush your teeth long enough? Here are some tips to help make sure you hit this two-minute mark:

1. Make your bed in the morning while brushing.

2. In the evening, lay out your clothes for the next day.

3. Squats while brushing.

4. Switch the brush between your left and right hands, a good brain exercise.

5. Stand on one foot while brushing with the other hand to exercise balance and train your core.

6. Create a playlist of tracks in the two-minute range to take your time cleaning. Start with these: "Your Smiling Face" by James Taylor; "She smiled sweetly" from The Rolling Stones; "When You Smile" by Louis Armstrong; and "teeth" by Lady Gaga.

More tips to keep your teeth strong and healthy

Emrich has now given additional tips for the additional care of your teeth so that you do not have major dental problems and even bigger bills if the restrictions are lifted.

1. Emrich recommends flossing before brushing, as he says that you will probably leave the bathroom without flossing. However, if you floss beforehand, you are unlikely to leave the bathroom without a brush.

2. "A battery-operated or electric toothbrush is always a sensible investment, but above all a good tool for times like this," said Emrich.

3. A fluoridated mouthwash like ACT can also provide additional cleaning of your teeth and gums. Let it be the last thing you use before bed.

4. Waterpiks are a great tool, but they don't replace the right floss.

5. Sticky foods like candy or candy from Sugar Daddy have a reputation for damaging teeth, but consuming soft drinks, energy drinks, and Gatorade every day is just as harmful, if not more so.

6. "While all of these beverages have a dent in your empty calorie wallet, they are also loaded with sugar, which creates cavities and potentially expensive dental procedures," said Emrich. "They also have a high acidity, which slowly removes the tooth structure."

7. If you to do Drink a soft drink or other sugary drink, drink it quickly, then rinse it off and immediately wipe it with water to limit the amount of time sugar and acids spend on your teeth.

Do not wait until you call if you are in pain

Dr. Ron O’Neal, The head of the Family Dentist offices in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida sees patients for important procedures three days a week. (He even dispenses a roll of toilet paper with dental floss to each patient.)

"If you are in pain, you can still see your dentist," he said. Pain is subjective, he emphasized, so it is difficult to know when to break the social distance to see your dentist.

Dr. Ron O’Neal, pictured in his office in St. Petersburg, Florida. Chris Zuppa / The Penny Hoarder

O'Neal does not recommend waiting for pain to affect your ability to eat or sleep.

"If you are in pain, I would call first and most likely go and have it evaluated," he said. "I think we will see an influx of people with minor problems who will become bigger problems when they sit and wait for them."

If surgery such as a root canal or cavity filling is not urgent, a dentist can prescribe an antibiotic to control the infection until the patient can fully treat the problem.

If you are concerned about possible exposure to the novel coronavirus, the ADA has set strict guidelines for dental offices where patients are treated during this time, including:

  • Patients and dentists are checked with a thermothermometer.
  • Patients complete a long questionnaire with questions about traveling outside the country and on cruise ships.
  • The appointments are staggered so that normally only one patient is in the office at a time.

Even before the pandemic, dentists and hygienists wore level 3 masks, which are one level below the N95 masks in terms of exposure barriers.

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance writer and editor in St. Petersburg, Florida, and author of the book Rules for the southern rule breaker: wrong steps and knowledge gained.

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