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Can’t visit the dentist? 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 have been disrupted in 2020. The British Dental Association (BDA) estimates that dentists in the UK have delivered nearly £ 19 million. fewer since the closure in March. treatments than in the same period last year.

What do you need to know about acute emergencies, and what more can you do to care for your teeth? We asked the experts.

What dental care services are currently available?

Although some routine dental procedures are now available again, in the UK the capacity of surgeries has been reduced and some try patients according to their needs and risk.

If you would like to see your dentist, it is recommended to contact them by phone or email to see if it is necessary for you to visit. For up-to-date advice on access to dental care in the UK, see the NHS website.

What is the risk of getting coronavirus at the dentist?

Although they are believed to have a high risk of getting Covid-1

9, a recent study by nearly 2,200 U.S. dentists showed that fewer than 1% tested positive in June. Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific advisor to the BDA, says dentists’ routine attention to infection control puts them at an advantage. “It’s almost different nature for us.”

An increased potential risk of transmission of coronavirus is the use of instruments such as tooth bores or ultrasonic scalers, which create a fine mist.

How do dentists adapt?

The subject is still adapting its procedures as more becomes known about how the virus spreads. For example, some dentists have switched to hand-held tools that are slower but create less spray. “Everything is a bit of a compromise,” Walmsley says.

Access to services is improved. In the UK, the “set-aside time” during which a treatment room must remain empty after an aerosol-forming procedure was recently reduced from one hour to 15-20 minutes (depending on ventilation), allowing dentists to see more patients.

What can I do to take care of my teeth while I can not get to a dentist?

“Most dental problems can be prevented,” Walmsley says. Brushing your teeth in the morning and at night for two minutes each time will generally be enough to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. However, studies have shown that people brush for an average of 43 seconds. “Four minutes a day is not much to ask,” says Dr. Nigel Carter, CEO of Oral Health Foundation.

Man showing children how to brush teeth
We should brush our teeth for two minutes twice a day. Photo: 10’000 timer / Getty Images

What kind of toothpaste should I use?

Any fluoride toothpaste will do. Not only does it help prevent tooth decay, but it slows down the rate of progression of any existing decay. Carter is concerned about the increasing availability of “natural” toothpastes without fluoride. 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 brush with is less important than brushing. Walmsley says a manual toothbrush is as effective as a motor if you brush for two minutes, twice a day. However, some electric toothbrushes have a timer – or even an app – to help you get more thorough. “I can say from personal experience that it has moved me from 1.5 minutes to 2 minutes,” says Carter about his electric toothbrush.

How often should I replace my toothbrush?

Dentists recommend that you replace your toothbrush or brush head every three months. Very few people do that. “As a nation, we use 1.2, 1.3 heads a year,” Carter says. “There are a lot of very old, fragile toothbrushes out there.”

Does toothbrushing reduce your coronavirus risk?

Martin Addy, Emeritus Professor of Dentistry at the University of Bristol, has argued that more frequent brushing should be promoted along with hand washing to protect against coronavirus, as the antimicrobials in toothpaste and mouthwash reduce oral bacteria.

A link to brushing is not yet substantiated, but last week a Cardiff University study found “promising evidence” that mouthwash can help kill coronavirus. Further research into how oral hygiene can help reduce coronavirus risk is underway.

What else can I do besides brush thoroughly?

If you already floss regularly, stick to it. If you have not yet made it a habit, gather some interdental brushes that are easier to use than string wire. Interdental cleaning is especially important if you have had gum disease in the past. Do this before brushing.

What else should I be aware of?

“Being aware of what you eat and when is also crucial to a healthy mouth,” says Nyree Whitley, group clinical director of dentistry mydentist. Many people have used more sugar and alcohol during the pandemic, which is detrimental to oral health over an extended period of time. Whitley suggests limiting snacks and consuming only sugar as part of a meal.

Floss before brushing.
Floss before brushing. Photo: PeopleImages / Getty Images

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

People may be put off by this, especially when starting a new oral care, but Carter’s advice is to persevere. “It’s not an indication that you are brushing too hard: it probably means you have not brushed well enough.” The bleeding indicates a level of gum disease and is likely to stop when your gums become healthier.

Whitley says dentists reported that patients’ gum disease had worsened in the months between the first blockage and practice reopened in the middle of the year: “It’s a good reminder of how quickly gum disease can get worse.”

Can I copy a professional hygiene cleaner at home?

This is “to deviate from DIY dentistry,” Walmsley says. Even with his expertise, he knows better than to try dental care on his own. “You can easily get yourself in trouble,” he says. If there is visible plaque or tartar (calcified plaque) around the teeth, talk to your dentist about the possibility of booking a scale and polishing.

I think I’m knocking teeth. What can I do?

This has reportedly become more prevalent during the pandemic due to rising stress levels. If you know you tend to squeeze your jaw while concentrating or are stressed during the day, it may be enough to break the habit, become aware of it, Carter says.

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

How do I know if I have an acute tooth?

Chipping a tooth without associated pain is generally not an emergency, Walmsley says. If you have broken or lost a filling, crown or veneer, you can have an emergency repair kit from a chemist bend over until you can talk to your dentist. Toothache can be relieved with paracetamol or ibuprofen.

“An urgent need for teeth can include swelling of the face that extends to the eye or neck, bleeding after a non-stop extraction, toothache that prevents eating or sleeping, or trauma that results in bleeding or fractures,” Whitley says. In the UK, call your dentist on their emergency line or call 111.

I have knocked a tooth out. What should I do?

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

Hold the tooth by the crown, not the root, and try to put it back in the hole in the chewing gum. Gently bite down on a clean cloth to hold it in place. If the tooth does not go in easily, put it in a container with milk or saliva (adults can also keep it inside the cheek). “Do not wash it under the tap – you will have all the small cells and body parts around it,” Walmsley says. If you cannot find the tooth, still seek emergency care.

What else do I need to take care of?

The 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 are simply putting off getting help”. If you have stomach ulcers that do not heal within several weeks or unexplained, persistent lumps in the mouth or lymph nodes (in the neck), contact your dentist or doctor.

I usually see my dentist twice a year. How worried should I be about this break?

“For people who have been on a regular basis and have little more than a study, scaling and polishing, there is really nothing to worry about,” says Carter. The subject has tried to expand the interval between controls for the healthier patients in the last 15 years as the rate of decay has been reduced.

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

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