Plymouth MN Dentist, Plymouth Family Dentist, Dentist 55441 - A COVID-19 Oral Health Guide
Dentist Plymouth A COVID-19 Oral Health Guide

4/14/2020

Practical Dental Tips for Strange Times

by Brian Mondale D.D.S.

 

As I write this, I am walking around the house with my not-by-choice 1976 John Denver hairstyle, doing my best to not interrupt my kids in their online courses or annoy my wife working remotely from my dresser that is now her stand-up desk.

 

 Almost everyone in the United States has had to cancel appointments and events.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has set May 4th as the hopeful return to work date for most of the state, however, it is very likely the restrictions will go on longer for dental offices and other businesses which require personal protective equipment.

 

With no clear return to work date, we must prepare to be in this for a longer time.  Many of you have already had cleanings and dental work rescheduled and are missing out on important maintenance to protect and restore the health of your mouth.

 

In this article, I will outline steps you can take at home to help prevent the most common dental problems. For those that currently have dental issues I will go over what can be done to help curb further damage.

 

The quick take-away: Everyone needs to be extra meticulous with home care.

 

 

Cosmetic Dentist Plymouth MN

     Read on to see how home whitening can protect your teeth.

 

 

Most dental problems* that require care can be put into one of three categories; cavities, gum disease, and trauma. These are all preventable conditions but when they occur, timely treatment is needed.

 

Cavities and Gum Disease

Cavities and gum disease are the result of infections from certain bacteria strains. The best prevention for cavities and gum disease is careful brushing and flossing. Removing dental plaque while it is still soft disrupts harmful bacteria in your mouth. Dental plaque will begin hardening into calculus (aka tartar) in 24 to 72 hours, making it much harder to control harmful bacteria in your mouth.

 

Practice great brushing habits.

Brush for 2 minutes at least 2 times a day.

 

Make sure your toothbrush head is in good condition. A fuzzy toothbrush will give you fuzzy teeth. If the ends of the brush bristles have more than 1-2 millimeters of fray you should replace the brush.

 

 

 

Never go to bed with dirty teeth.

 

If you’re working from home, take advantage of the convenience of being able to brush after every meal. This goes double for my school age patients!

 

Floss properly.

Floss every night (and when you feel food stuck between your teeth).

 

When you floss be sure to clean the crevice between your tooth and gum. This is done by pressing the floss against the tooth so the floss forms a “C” shape and carefully sliding it toward the gum tissue. If you are cutting at the gums when you do this, you are either pushing too hard or not wrapping the floss around the tooth enough. If it has been a while since you have flossed there may be some bleeding.

 

Watch those sugary quarantine snacks.

A healthy diet will support tooth and gum health. Sugar feeds the bacteria responsible for cavities and will increase inflammatory damage from gum disease. Cheese, veggies, nuts, and leafy greens can support healthy teeth and gums.

 

Fight active disease.

While professional treatment is needed to resolve active infections, over the counter and prescription therapeutics including tooth whitening (see below), prescription antimicrobial mouth rinses and prescription fluoride products are available to help slow the spread of disease and buy time before definitive treatment is delivered.

 

If you are concerned about your dental condition deteriorating while we wait please give us a call. We will determine your level of need and tailor a therapeutic regimen to your needs.

 

 

Trauma

Most people think of trauma as an injury from a sudden impact like a fall or knock. It could also result from damaging forces caused by improper tooth alignment or clenching and grinding.

 

Remember teeth are not tools. Don’t open packages, cut string or open bottles with your teeth.

 

Limit clenching and grinding.

Clenching and grinding habits put unnecessary stress and strain on your teeth and jaw. Habitual clenching and grinding can lead to headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, and damage to teeth. Stress often increases the intensity of clenching and grinding.

 

If you are grinding while you’re awake, make a conscious effort to keep your teeth apart. You should only clench your teeth when you are eating. When you notice yourself clenching or grinding, practice keeping your lips together, teeth apart, and gently rest the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. This can allow the muscles to relax and sets the jaw in a comfortable position.

 

Wear a protective guard.

Damage from clenching, grinding, and physical impact can be reduced with night guards, sports mouth-guards, and bite splints. While professionally fit guards and splints generally work best, there are devices available that do not require professional adjustment that can help protect teeth and help relieve jaw strain.

 

Sports mouth guards can protect your teeth and face from injury. While most contact sports are off the table right now, you may be involved in an activity that puts your teeth at risk like dirt bike riding, jaw clenching while weight lifting, or even more extreme endeavors like lying on your back while holding your iPad over your face.

 

If you are experiencing any discomfort from clenching and grinding or TMJ related pain, give us a call, we could give you guidance on the right type of splint for your issues.

 

*Other diseases and conditions of the mouth occur that may need immediate attention.

• Any irritation, sore, rash, swelling, or damage that is causing pain.

•A growth or sore that is present longer than 10 days (this includes a tickle or irritation in your mouth or throat).

• A change in mobility of your tongue or difficulties in speech or swallowing.

• A change in the color of the soft tissue, white, red, or dark spots.

 

 

Fight Cavities With Tooth Whitening

 

Professional strength whitening products not only whiten teeth but also have been shown to reduce harmful bacteria and loosen stubborn plaque. Formulations with PF (potassium nitrate and fluoride), like the Opalescence line of products we carry, have been shown to strengthen the enamel surface of the tooth.

   

Tooth whitening Plymouth MNYou can use the extra time you have at home to brighten your smile and protect your teeth.

Tooth bleaching is safe for your teeth but harmful to the bacteria in dental plaque.

 

One of the best ways to fight cavities with tooth whitener is using custom fit trays with a low concentration whitener worn overnight. This method requires custom impressions of your teeth which can’t be done at this time. If you already have custom whitening trays or if you have orthodontic aligners you can do this. A great whitening option we can provide to anyone is Opalesence Go. Opalescence Go is a one size fits all, no goopy impressions needed, whitening system.

 

If you are interested in tooth whitening, give us a call for a free consultation. We will make sure you are a good candidate for whitening and find the best whitening option for you. We can even supervise your progress via cell phone.

 

 

We are here for you!

During the shutdown we are still available for emergency treatment. If you have a dental issue that is causing you pain please call.

 

For dental problems, there is no need to go to the emergency room unless you suspect COVID-19 exposure. We’re here to help. The updated guidance on how our office is handling emergencies is on our website.