Perhaps you’ve delayed a dental checkup – or two – for yourself or your child because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe you even put off talking to a dentist about replacing your loose filling.
But now things have changed and there are safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. So, is it a safe time to catch up on your dental appointments?
Below, we answer all your questions about dental health during COVID-19 and what you can do to keep your teeth healthy during the pandemic and every day.
Oral health problems and COVID-19
More people have been experiencing oral health problems during the pandemic. Maybe you’re wondering: Does the coronavirus have anything to do with your sore, swollen gums? Is COVID-19 tooth pain a thing?
The answer is probably not. Researchers are looking to see if there’s a link between COVID-19 and poor oral health. But it doesn’t seem like the coronavirus causes mouth problems like sore or swollen gums, and tooth sensitivity or pain.
It’s probably more likely that COVID-19 is indirectly causing oral health problems because of the stress related to the pandemic or delayed dental exams.
So, if you want to improve your oral health, look for ways to manage stress and get your preventive dental visits back on track.
Should I get dental care during COVID-19?
In a word, yes. Getting dental care is important to your overall health, and we have measures in place to keep you safe. Our dental clinics are open for routine exams and to take care of dental issues that can’t wait.
How is HealthPartners making dental visits safe?
We’ve always been focused on providing the highest level of patient care and we’re taking extra precautions to keep you safe during COVID-19.
These include keeping up with state and federal guidance on things like minimizing your time in the waiting room and following recommended masking procedures.
And if you haven’t seen the dentist in a while, don’t worry. We’ll understand why you haven’t been in and will make your exam as comfortable and easy as possible.
Can you go to the dentist if you haven’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccine?
Our safety measures are designed to keep everyone safe. So you can schedule a dental visit for you or your child regardless of vaccination status. This means you don’t need to put off your kiddo’s dental appointment until they’re eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines for kids and teens.
Of course, if you or your child aren’t feeling well, you should stay home – whether the symptoms are from a cold, COVID-19 or the flu. And if you think it could be COVID-19, make a virtual appointment with your doctor or go ahead and get tested for COVID-19.
How can I deal with dental issues at home?
If you’re not able to get an appointment right away, you can temporarily solve certain dental problems with items from your medicine cabinet or pharmacy.
- Dental pain – For dental pain, the key is whether there is swelling and if the pain continues. As with all medicines, please be sure to follow instructions.
- For pain without swelling – Common over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines can help. You can take a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Contact your dentist for appropriate dosage and if the pain continues.
- For pain with swelling – In addition to OTC pain medicines, rinse your mouth with warm saltwater for short-term relief. Consult your dentist for further guidance.
- Fractured tooth, lost filling, lost crown or bridge – You can get OTC temporary filling material from the dental aisle of your pharmacy. Many of these products are also available online and can be delivered to your home. Ask or search for “loose cap or filling repair.”
- Broken or ill-fitting dentures – Search your pharmacy for “denture repair kits” or “denture reline kits.”
- Trauma – If you experience a physical injury to your mouth, contact your dentist right away.
- Gum, cheek, tongue and lip pain
- For children experiencing pain in any of these soft tissue areas, OTC pain medicines like children’s ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help. There are also children’s oral gels that can offer relief. Contact your dentist or pediatric dentist for help.
- For adults experiencing pain without swelling, common OTC medicated gels are available, including the brand name Orajel.
If you’re in doubt about your situation, reach out to your dentist for help.
How should I keep my teeth healthy during COVID-19?
It can be tempting to put aside your dental health. But here are a few tips to help keep your teeth shining and gums gleaming:
- Wash your hands – Aim for at least 20 seconds before and after any personal dental care.
- Brush at least twice a day – Be sure to get those hard-to-reach spots.
- Floss once a day – Flossing is important for removing bacteria and plaque in places your brush can’t reach.
- Eat a well-balanced diet – Limit sticky, sugary snacks like cake and cookies.
- Limit frequency of snacking – Frequent snacking increases your risk of cavities.
- Limit sugary drinks – Soda and fruit juices can harm tooth surfaces (enamel).
- Drink plenty of water – Drink water with meals and between meals.
- Avoid smoking – Smoking limits blood flow to your mouth, making it easier for bacteria to grow.
- Visit the dentist – Routine dental care is critical to keeping your mouth, and the rest of you, healthy.
Catch up on your dentist visits. Your teeth will thank you.
It will likely be a while before the world is back to normal – but scheduling a dental checkup for you or your child is a step in the right direction.
And if you’re experiencing a dental emergency, make sure you get the help you need as soon as possible.