Does Covid affect oral health?
Questions have been asked about the effect that Coronavirus has on oral health. Most of the scientific findings point to there being little or no evidence between the virus and poor oral health. However, one of the main symptoms of Covid-19 is the loss of taste and smell. Sensory problems have been reported in those with “long-covid”, the long term effects of Coronavirus. An example of this is when toothpaste tastes like charcoal or sand, and when the bristles on a normal toothbrush irritate the senses. We know that when anyone reduces the time spent brushing their teeth, there is a kick-on effect with plaque, bacteria build-up and gum disease. This could be cited as a side-effect of Covid, but there are ways of working with this. For example, using a softer toothbrush, or unflavoured toothpaste would greatly help those with sensory issues.
Any other dental issues caused by Covid?
Have you tried booking an appointment with an NHS dentist recently? It is nearly impossible to be seen by your own dentist, or to register with an NHS dentist as a new patient. The same scenario applies across private dentistry, although patients are experiencing better luck booking appointments with private clinics. What has caused this sudden rush for dental appointments? The answer has two parts. Firstly the pent-up demand caused when dental clinics were forced to close as a result of lockdown measures. The second is the new rules being applied to dentistry. Your dentist and hygienist now have to allow a time gap between seeing patients to clean the air in the surgery, and also clean all the surfaces. In short, only half the number of patients are being seen in dental clinics across the country. As a result, checkups and 6 monthly cleans are being pushed out to 12 months in some cases. This results in patients having to pay even greater attention to their daily oral health care routines. You can find a selection of dental clinics in your area on this website.
Are emergency dental appointments affected by Covid?
Clinics are less able to see every dental emergency and tend to only look after registered patients. There are emergency hubs across the UK where dentists can see patients in real pain. Many clinics now also offer video consultations so that you can have a “face-to-face” meeting with your clinician. There are also some products that every family should have in their medicine cabinets, such as temporary tooth repair kits and clove oil for pain relief. These type of emergency products will at least make your life easier until you are able to see a dentist. If you are unable to reach your dentist, please call 111 in emergencies where you can talk to fully qualified clinicians.
Should I be brushing my teeth more often?
Everyone should be brushing their teeth twice a day for two minutes. This 2 x 2 rule keeps your teeth and gums healthy and clean. Some scientists were suggesting that mouthwash be used in addition to brushing your teeth. Although this helps to reduce bacteria in your mouth, it should never replace a good toothbrush and a good toothpaste. Indeed, most dentists would recommend using a flossing brush, floss tape, or a Waterpik water flosser to keep bacteria and plaque at bay. You should also be aware of some mouth rinses that discolour your teeth. There are specific brands which have ADS (Anti Discolouration Solution) and do not affect the shade of your teeth.
Any other effects from Coronavirus?
Now that the pandemic appears to be coming under control, we will have greater opportunity to get out and enjoy our lives. For many, it feels like a new start or a “reset”. The chance to socialise with friends, to hug our families, to celebrate weddings, graduations, birthdays and life in general. Our mental health has taken a knock over the past months and this will be one of the longer term effects of Coronavirus. This is a time to speak openly to each other, to reach out and help each other and to smile the brightest smile we can.