20 May, 2020
If there is one thing that the Coronavirus has got us talking about, it is hygiene; however, many health practitioners and old-timers tell us that it is nothing new. These were age-old practices, especially in India, which our parents, grandparents were very particular about. Somehow, in the fast-paced life, we slowly let go of many of these. Washing your hands, feet, and face when you come in from outside, washing hands before every meal or snack, not eating from others’ plates, covering your face while coughing or sneezing, and so on are just a few of the good practices that have become prevalent again.
Since we have started talking about hygiene, it would be good to take the discussion further to another form of hygiene, which is usually ignored - oral hygiene. Oral hygiene was and is important; more so in Corona times, since it is always better to avoid a Dentist visit to the extent possible. Our best protection mechanisms during such times when we step out are social distancing and wearing a mask. When we visit a dentist, we need to forego both of these. Hence, to avoid such a situation, it is important to pay attention to oral hygiene and maintain our oral health.
The oral issues
The common oral issues that can trouble people are bad breath, tooth decay, and pain, gum issues like swelling, bleeding, and pain, sores, etc. Certain medications are taken by seniors for common ailments like allergy, blood pressure, asthma, cholesterol, anxiety, etc. may also cause some oral issues. Those consuming tobacco and alcohol are at a higher risk. As is being advertised by government health agencies, tobacco is one of the leading causes of oral cancer.
For those who are already on dentures, the chances of a mouth sore are high, and it cannot be ignored either. Even those who have diabetes are more prone to mouth sores. It could also be caused by certain treatments like that of cancer. Hence, oral issues are usually related to our habits, hygiene, health conditions, medications, and a few other issues. One of the most ways to avoid issues would be to ensure that we give up on bad habits like tobacco, and drinking. The next best way would be to ensure good oral hygiene.
Oral hygiene tips
As we have learned from the school texts, brushing your teeth twice (morning and bedtime) is a very important oral hygiene tip. This should be done meticulously and in the right way. Brushing teeth using the right techniques can actually help you prevent a lot of oral issues. Even if you are wearing dentures, please clean the dentures and maintain it as per instructions. And also follow oral hygiene tips for keeping the mouth clean. It is important to keep yourself hydrated in all seasons and avoid dry mouth. This can lead to many other issues that may need medical attention.
Avoid aerated and sugary drinks that can cause issues to the teeth. It is important to rinse your mouth thoroughly after every snack and meal. We sometimes feel lazy about this, especially with snacking. But this can lead to a build-up in the teeth slowly. Hence, rinsing is important; this should also be followed up by a scaling once in six months. The tongue should also be brushed and kept clean. It is also advisable to change the toothbrush once in three months. Never share toothbrushes, especially in the current circumstances.
What to watch out for
If you find any changes, sores, pain, lumps, swelling, etc., then it is best to avoid any self-medication and visit a doctor immediately. Any bleeding that does not go off in a day or two or pain or trouble while chewing or swallowing should also be attended to by a dentist. Sensitive teeth are another issue that you should consult a doctor for, in case it does not subside within a few days. One safe home remedy that can be tried for good oral hygiene is salt water rinsing.
This is an ancient technique that has been in use for ages, and is said to help reduce inflammation, and fight oral infections. Rinse your mouth two to three times a day with warm salt water to ensure this. You could also rinse it with an antibacterial mouthwash, prescribed by your dentist, as an alternative. It is advisable to floss your teeth regularly, as that also helps prevent the build-up that leads to many other issues.
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