Poor dental habits can lead to more health problems than
Dr Supriya Ebenezer, a periodontist and implantologist, takes us through the importance of oral hygiene and its association with covid.
“Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE 2) is an enzyme attached to the membrane of cells located in the lungs, kidneys, mouth and several other organs. According to some studies, SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus that affects the lungs severely) enters the lung cells via ACE 2 receptors. These receptors are present in large quantities in the oral cavity,” said Dr Ebenezer.
The oral cavity is a reservoir for bacteria and viruses. It is important to take care of one’s oral hygiene irrespective of covid.
It is recommended to consult a dentist for yearly or bi-annual checkups to fix problems like
“Many are afraid of visiting dentists during the pandemic. Dentists are taking all precautions to ensure the safety of their patients. The
“If a patient still does not want to visit a dentist, at this time, it is recommended to maintain the best possible oral hygiene at home. Even then, if one notices inflammation, bleeding gums, tartar or hard deposits on their
Dr Ebenezer explained ways to check and monitor one’s oral hygiene at home:
Check for soft deposits
One can either scrape their teeth gently with their nails or feel their teeth with their tongue. The tongue can immediately detect the presence of a layer of soft deposits. If you’re scraping your teeth with your nail and noticing white deposits on them, your teeth have soft deposits on them. This can be a sign of poor brushing habits.
Check for gum inflammation
If you notice red or swollen gums or any amount of bleeding, it is an indication of gum inflammation and poor oral hygiene.
Once one notices signs of poor oral hygiene, it is imperative that they upgrade their dental care habits at home. If you’re brushing only once a day, or not brushing at all, this is your cue to pick up your
Tips on how to brush your teeth Frequency
Ideally one should brush after every meal. However, that may not be possible for most, given that they might have hectic work schedules. Dr Ebenezer recommended brushing at least twice every day, once every 12 hours.
Brush in front of a mirror
It is best to brush in front of a mirror and watch one’s brushing movements. This way you can brush until you remove the soft deposits from your teeth.
Change your brush regularly
Ideally one should change their toothbrush every three months. If you notice that the bristles on your toothbrush have started fraying, it is time to change your brush. It is also advised to change your brush if you’ve recently recovered from covid or other viral diseases.
Maintain a healthy pressure
If your toothbrush is fraying way before three months, you’re putting too much pressure or brushing with too much force. This can cause aberrations on
your gums and teeth and even cause cavities.
If the bristles on your toothbrush haven’t frayed at all within three to four months, it means that you are either not brushing often enough or not maintaining the required pressure while brushing. This can cause soft deposits to stay on your teeth. This is dangerous as these deposits can be disease-causing germs or cause gum inflammation and cavities.
Begin brushing the outer surfaces of the teeth from one side and gradually move to the other, then brush the inner surface of the teeth. Remember to brush on the chewing or biting surfaces of your teeth too. It is advised to brush in short, horizontal, back and forth vibrations between the teeth and then move the brush from the gum towards the biting surface. Do this on both the upper and the lower set of teeth.
Pick your tool
If you’re concerned about expenses, a regular manual brush is sufficient to maintain good oral hygiene. The key lies in the technique of brushing more than the brush itself.
However, if you’re worried about your technique, a motorised brush will work wonders. Some of these are even chargeable and last much longer than three months.
Dentists recommend interdental brushes for those who have gaps between their teeth. Orthodontic brushes work best for those with braces.
Bacteria and viruses can easily latch on from one person’s toothbrush to another’s. It is best to store your toothbrush separately from other people’s brushes at home.
While brushing can get rid of the soft deposits on your teeth, the deposits between your teeth are difficult to get to. Flossing helps to get rid of those deposits. Take your flossing string and gently slide it along the curvature of your teeth, in between the teeth towards your gum. Then, gently slide it back out. You will notice that the string has soft deposits on it. Flossing might seem challenging at first but one gets better at it with practice.
Ideally one should floss twice a day. If you’re time-strapped, it is recommended to floss at least once a day. Flossing is as important as brushing.
Nowadays, water flossers are also available which release water on the teeth at a certain pressure to remove soft deposits.
Use a fluoride-based toothpaste
It is recommended to supplement one’s brushing with fluoride as it helps to prevent decay and demineralisation of the teeth.
Avoid soda-based drinks, sweets and junk food
These foods do not cause decay or harm automatically. However, if one does not brush immediately after consuming them, the deposits can have a negative impact on one’s oral health.