If you’ve always visited your dentist every six months like clockwork, you may be feeling a little nervous with your dental office closed for non-emergency care during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We want our patients to be able to maintain their optimal level of oral health at this difficult time, and we also want to protect the health and safety of every member of our community. We are hopeful that your Greenbelt dentist will be ready to see your smile for regular dental checkups soon because, as always, we believe in the essential benefits of preventive dentistry to keep smiles healthy. Until we can safely offer preventive dental appointments again, read our blog to learn some of the ways you can protect your smile with good oral hygiene at-home.
American Dental Association Recommendations for Dental Offices During COVID-19
The American Dental Association has made a number of recommendations for dental offices during the COVID-19 pandemic. These recommendations are subject to timelines that are determined at the state and local level, and the McCarl Dental Group will follow all standards for safe dental care as set by Maryland authorities. Below, we’ve outlined the current recommendations we’re following for dental treatment during the pandemic:
- Only emergency dental procedures should be performed
- Pre-screen emergency patients via phone or video chat
- Ask emergency patients to wait in cars rather than waiting rooms when possible
- Minimize the number of patients and employees in the office at any one time
- Take the temperature of patients when they first arrive in the office
- Have patients wash hands immediately upon arrival
- Ask patients to use an antimicrobial mouth rinse before treatment
- Clean and disinfect all public spaces regularly
- All elective and preventive treatments and procedures should be postponed
- Save personal protective equipment (PPE) for dental emergency situations to preserve the limited supply
- Stay in communication with patients and the community about measures to protect their health and safety
10 Tips for Keeping Your Smile Healthy
We know it can be a little scary to think that you’ll be without your regular preventive dental checkups and teeth cleanings for the foreseeable future, especially if you have cavity-prone teeth. However, there are some ways to make sure your smile is healthy until you get back to our office, including:
- Brush & Brush & Brush – we’re all learning to sing 20 second songs while we wash our hands, but you need to sing those songs in your head at least six times while brushing your teeth. Every time you brush, you need to spend at least two minutes to remove plaque and food debris.
- Brush some more – hopefully, we’re all brushing in the morning and before we go to bed at night, but brushing 30 minutes after each meal can really help prevent plaque from hardening into tartar (calculus) and keep your smile healthier.
- Be consistent – many people brush all around their mouths with no real plan, and they unintentionally miss spots. Take care to systematically brush each tooth (front, back, and biting surface). Everyone has a different approach, but just make sure you’re paying attention and addressing each part of the mouth.
- Use the right products – get a soft bristled toothbrush and a good, minimally abrasive toothpaste. Hard bristled toothbrushes can damage soft tissue and cause unnecessary tooth enamel erosion. Abrasive toothpastes are often recommended for teeth whitening, but these products can accelerate dental wear.
- Brush correctly – don’t brush too aggressively. Again, this can lead to soft tissue damage and unnecessary dental wear. Instead of brushing in big circles or large back and forth strokes, use small, gentle motions with the bristles pressed against teeth at a 45 degree angle toward the gums.
- Floss – yes, every day. You may be able to get away with skipping flossing when you know you’ll have a consistent, professional teeth cleaning appointment, but with uncertainty about when your next visit will be, flossing is even more important than ever before. Flossing is the only way you clean the plaque and debris between your teeth, so skipping this part of your routine leaves these surfaces exposed to decay and damage.
- Use mouthwash – if you don’t have time to brush between meals or you just want to add a little boost to your daily brushing and flossing routine, use a good, antimicrobial mouth rinse to reduce the numbers of plaque-producing oral bacteria.
- Use a tongue scraper – many toothbrushes now come with these tools built in (it’s the little bumpy pad on the back of your toothbrush head). Even after you brush and floss, you may still have some bacteria, food debris, and plaque on your tongue, so take a few extra seconds to gently brush your tongue during your oral hygiene routine.
- Keep your brush clean – toothbrushes can be hotbeds for bacteria, germs, fungus, and mold. You don’t want to introduce new contaminants to your mouth when you brush, so it’s important to keep your toothbrush clean. Thoroughly rinse your toothbrush after each cleaning and store it upright and uncovered to ensure it completely dries between uses. For an extra deep clean, you can soak your toothbrush in mouthwash for about 20 minutes once a week. Then, rinse and store as usual. Remember to change your brushes every three to four months.
- Skip snacks – we know it’s hard, especially when you’re stuck at home, but snacking prolongs the “acid attack” that occurs after eating. As you consume a regular meal within 30 minutes or an hour, the bacteria in your mouth are digesting parts of the meal and producing acidic plaque. This usually stops within 30 minutes of completing your meal. When you snack, this process is continual, which can significantly weaken tooth enamel.
Meet the McCarl Dental Group Team
In Greenbelt, MD, the McCarl Dental Group team has been helping families find new reasons to smile for generations now. We are committed to continuing the legacy of dental excellence we started here way back in 1924. Greenbelt families know they can trust the skilled McCarl Dental Group team with all of their smile care needs. If you want to learn more about keeping your mouth healthy or you’re concerned about smile health during the COVID-19 pandemic, our knowledgeable dentists and team would love to hear from you.