Oral hygiene: When illness strikesNews
Posted by: The Probe 7th May 2020
How much do patients really know about the impact of oral hygiene on the body when illness strikes? Given the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected most people worldwide, it is crucial for dental professionals to educate patients on the importance of practising effective oral care at home to maintain a healthy mouth. After all, the mouth is a gateway to the rest of the body, influencing one’s general health and wellbeing.
Effects of infection
When we are ill, our body’s immune system is compromised, making it difficult for us to combat infections as effectively as when we are healthy, which can affect our recovery time from illnesses. Our mouth can also be affected, resulting in a poorer response to plaque. Moreover, bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and cause infection in other parts of the body, leading to an even weaker immune system and further detrimental effects on overall health.[i]
Despite these problems, it can be all too easy for good oral hygiene habits to fall by the wayside during illness. That’s why it’s vital to emphasise to patients the benefit of following an effective oral care regime that includes interdental cleaning once a day, as well as twice-daily brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Patients should be advised to spit out any toothpaste after brushing, but avoid rinsing their mouth out with water.
Rule of thumb
As toothbrush bristles break down over time with continued used – thus becoming less effective at removing plaque – most dental professionals would agree that a toothbrush should be replaced every three months. However, some patients might not be aware that this rule does not necessarily apply if they are unwell. In fact, recommendations generally depend on the type of illness that a patient had contracted.
For instance, although it is not essential if they develop the common cold or flu, patients are often advised to replace their toothbrush in the case of illnesses such as strep throat. There remains very limited research on COVID-19, but it is recommended that patients replace their toothbrush if they’ve had symptoms of this disease and recovered from it. Immunocompromised patients should replace their toothbrush regardless of any illness they develop.
Practise good habits
It is vital that toothbrushes are kept as far away as possible from toilets and sinks, in order to ensure they avoid coming into contact with any bacteria that is spread through the air after flushing and on surfaces during hand washing. Furthermore, toothbrushes should always be stored upright, separate from each other within an area where there is plenty of airflow, as opposed to a moist corner of the bathroom where potentially harmful microorganisms can thrive.
Patients should also clean their toothbrush as much as they can. The best and simplest way to do this is by rinsing the toothbrush with water after use in order to remove any toothpaste residue or food particles. A toothbrush can be disinfected using a suitable mouth rinse after a patient has had a cold or flu. Taking such steps can aid patients in protecting themselves, which is essential considering the current global health climate.
You can help patients optimise their oral care routine by recommending Curaprox oral healthcare solutions, including the CS 5460 manual toothbrush, the CPS Prime interdental brush, and the Be You range of toothpastes. Such products are innovatively designed to facilitate a gentle but effective clean – even in hard-to-reach areas. This is crucial to preventing illness and maintaining healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime.
[i] Curaden. (2020) The mouth is the gateway to the whole body – Experts explain how oral health influences overall wellness. Link: https://gently.curaden.com/the-mouth-is-the-gateway-to-the-whole-body/. [Last accessed: 30.03.20].
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