Take care of your dental health while at home

The Covid-19 crisis has disrupted all our lives.
Take care of your dental health while at home

KOCHI: The Covid-19 crisis has disrupted all our lives. We have all been forced to remain at home changing our whole lifestyle, which includes missing routine health check-up. While we safeguard our general health, there is a tendency to neglect some specific areas such as dental health.

Here are some common tips to maintain good oral health while staying at home
• Brush and floss twice a day, preferably with fluoridated toothpaste.
• Rinse the mouth well after every meal (use a mouth wash if needed). Gargling with warm salt water is also good.
• Eat a well-balanced healthy diet and drink a lot of water.
• Avoid smoking.
 While it is always better to call up and consult the dentist regarding a dental problem, there are a few home remedies that can be done to treat or control the problem temporarily.

It’s important to figure out what’s the cause of pain. In any case, a regular salt water rinse can help for minor irritation. Salt water is a natural disinfectant, and it can help loosen food particles and debris that may be stuck in between the teeth. This can also help reduce inflammation and heal any oral wounds. 
But for a toothache due to cavity, the age-old remedy of clove oil is a very effective way of controlling the pain although temporarily. A drop or two can be added to a small ball of cotton and placed in the cavity. If symptoms persist for more than a day or two, or if there is a swelling, then antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication may have to be prescribed by a dentist.

Mouth sore/ulcer/irritation
Application of an oral ointment containing a local anaesthetic in the affected area 15 minutes before every meal is advised. 2% Povidone Iodine (Betadine) mouth rinse can also be used with equal parts of water to reduce inflammation or soreness of mouth or throat. It is known to be effective in killing bacteria and viruses, although studies are yet to confirm its effect on the corona virus. It is also good to take multivitamins or B-complex tablets once a day after food.

Dislodgement of a cap or bridge
It is important to keep the crown or bridge safely aside in a container, until the next dental appointment, instead of trying to fix it back and resulting in a broken crown or broken tooth!

Accident/trauma to tooth or gums
First of all, it is important to not panic and remain calm. If there is bleeding, pressure should be applied in the area with clean cotton dipped in cold water preferably. An ice pack can also be applied. If there is persistent bleeding, a call to the dentist is a must.
The following are termed ‘emergencies’  where a visit tothe dentist is required 
1. Tooth pain with swelling (which does not subside after antibiotic treatment).
2. Trauma or fracture of tooth due to an accident.
3. Severe consistent bleeding of gums
4. Swelling or pain around gums or neck.
5. Denture adjustment or tooth pain for people receiving radiation or other cancer treatment.
6. Snipping or adjustment of wires of braces that hurts the cheek or gums.
7. Post surgical swelling, pain or stitch removal.
In general, dentists and their staff are at a great risk of contracting the viral infection if proper precautions and PPE personal protection equipments are not used. Therefore it is absolutely imperative  to always make a call or have an online consultation with the dentist, before visiting the dental clinic, to give the dentist time to make the necessary arrangements.

Dental procedures that can be postponed and are not considered as emergencies are as follows
1. Regular visits for examination, scaling or teeth whitening.
2. Regular visits for braces.
3. Removal of teeth that aren’t painful.
4. Treatment of cavities that aren’t painful.
5. X-rays.
6. Cosmetic treatment.

Dr Vinitha Ramachandran is the director and periodontal surgeon at Dr A Ramachandran’s Diabetes Hospital, Chennai.

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