Safe dental practices are always important, but they are especially essential during a time when virus transmission and general health and wellness are top of mind for everyone. Viruses – including Coronavirus or COVID-19 – frequently enter the body through the mouth or nose, so it is important to practice good overall hygiene and remember to take a few extra precautions when caring for your oral health.
Wash your hands as part of your oral care routine: Take the time to wash your hands before handling your toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and other oral care items. After you brush and floss, wash your face and wash your hands thoroughly after stowing items you have used.
Disinfect your toothbrush regularly: This is something that we all should practice on a regular basis, not just in times of prevalent viruses. There are several ways you can disinfect your toothbrush including running it through a full dishwasher cycle, soaking it in a solution of 70 percent alcohol or one part bleach nine parts water, or boiling your brush in water for five minutes. Set a reminder on your phone or on your calendar to do this at least monthly, and get a new toothbrush if yours is showing signs of wear.
Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after each use: When you are done brushing, thoroughly rinse your toothbrush in hot water. This not only helps remove sticky, clingy toothpaste, it also helps rinse away germs and bacteria that your brush may have removed from your mouth during your oral care routine.
Store your toothbrush correctly: Never place a toothbrush in a drawer, cabinet or enclosed storage container. These damp, dark spaces harbor germs and encourage bacteria growth. If you use a shared toothbrush holder, ensure that your brush doesn’t touch other brush heads in the container. Never store toothbrushes near a toilet, and do not lay your toothbrush on a counter or other flat surface that could contaminate the brush head. Take special care when traveling to stow your toothbrush safely and avoid contaminants.
Do not share oral care items: Some viruses can live on surfaces for several days. Do not share toothpaste, dental floss or other oral care items with family members or roommates in order to avoid cross-contamination. If sharing an electric toothbrush, water pick or other oral care item with interchangeable heads, remember to keep all pieces clean and wipe the handle with disinfectant between users.
Replace your toothbrush when needed: Always replace your toothbrush after you have been sick and recovered from a virus or bacterial infection. And replace your toothbrush if the bristles are splayed or show other signs of wear. When in doubt, replace your disposable tooth brush or electric toothbrush head.
Take extra care when handling dentures: Wash your hands with soap and water before handling dentures. Sanitize dentures by soaking in a mixture of one teaspoon of bleach in 8 ounces of water for about a minute, then rinsing under hot running water.
If you have questions about oral care health, sanitizing best practices and infection control, speak to your dentist or oral health care provider. These experts are well versed in current sanitizing procedures and use them daily to maintain a clean and safe office and treatment space for patients.
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