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What You Didn’t Know About the Link Between Oral Hygiene and COVID-19

What You Didn’t Know About the Link Between Oral Hygiene and COVID-19

Dr Minati Chakraborty, Dental Surgeon and Dr Yatharth Bhatia from Fortis Hospital speak about oral hygiene and good practices to follow.

This article is a part of a series by The Better India to share verified information about COVID-19 care. While several posts on various aspects of fighting COVID-19 are being circulated on social media and messaging services like WhatsApp, we urge you not to trust unverified content. To separate fact from fiction, we will be sharing the videos and content with doctors and experts and bring you their responses with scientific research-backed information.

“The importance of maintaining good oral hygiene is often lost on people,” says Dr Yatharth Bhatia, Consultant, Dental Sciences, Fortis Hospital, Gurugram. The pandemic and subsequent rise in various fungal infections makes good oral hygiene all the more important.

Dr Minati Chakraborty, Dental Surgeon at Spark Dental Clinic, Delhi, and Dr Bhatia help us understand how we can maintain good oral hygiene to keep infections at bay.

Oral hygiene
Dr Chakraborty and Dr Bhatia.

1. Why is it important to maintain good oral hygiene?

Dr Chakraborty: Maintaining oral hygiene is of utmost importance since the mouth is the entry point of our respiratory and digestive systems. It is imperative for us to follow oral hygiene measures to maintain oral health.

Fungal infection affects the oral cavity which causes gums to swell. This can also lead to bleeding gums and a foul smell from the mouth. In order to prevent acidity and gum-related issues, one needs to take care of their oral hygiene.

Dr Bhatia: A mouth that is not clean is slightly more susceptible to developing such unusual fungal infections. Given the pandemic, the best way to maintain oral hygiene is to follow simple homecare techniques.

2. What homecare routine can one follow to maintain good oral hygiene?

Dr Bhatia: While brushing twice a day is the minimum ask, one could also use a Hexidine-based mouthwash. It has been proven to be effective in reducing the viral load in the mouth, in case the person is COVID-19 positive. It also reduces the chances of transmission when used.

However, the Hexidine mouthwash should not be used for long term. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you could alternate between hot water and salt rinse and the Hexidine mouthwash. The Hexidine mouthwash can be used twice a day while the hot water and salt solution can be used at other times.

Dr Chakraborty: It is highly recommended that one brushes twice-thrice, daily. Do not share toothbrushes with others and ensure that you disinfect the toothbrush frequently, especially now during the pandemic.

Post recovering from COVID-19, it is important to dispose of one’s toothbrush. Moreover, we should also disinfect one’s toothbrush with an antiseptic mouthwash every time after it is used .

3. Is it necessary to change our brush/tongue cleaner after recovering from COVID-19?

Oral hygiene
Representational image

Dr Chakraborty: Yes, it is advisable to change the brush or tongue cleaner post recovering from COVID-19 since the virus can remain in the brush bristles and surface of the tongue cleaner.

Dr Bhatia: It is advisable, as a general rule, to change your brush and tongue cleaner once every month.

4. What is the importance of oral rinsing and how many times a day should one do it?

Dr Chakraborty: Mouthwash can dissolve all the harmful viruses or bacteria and throw them out of our oral cavity. Usual procedure is to rinse the mouth with Betadine, Chlorhexidine or with mouthwashes that have antiseptic and antiplaque properties.

After coming back from outside, one should use mouthwash to remove virus/bacteria from our mouth. It would also help in keeping our oral cavity safe and healthy, and reduces the risk of getting infected.

5. Is a dental check-up post COVID-19 necessary?

Dr Bhatia: Unless an emergency arises, post recovering from COVID-19, one can schedule a visit with the dentist after 6 months of recovery.

What we are seeing in patients who have recovered from COVID-19 is soreness in the mouth, Gingivitis [inflammation of the gums] and development of mouth ulcers, often due to the medication prescribed. These are all symptomatic problems and can very well be treated by good oral hygiene and the regular intake of B-complex tablets.

6. What are a few advantages of oral rising?

• Prevent cavities
• Prevent gum-related issues
• Whitens your teeth
• Prevents plaque build-up
• Cures bad breath.

(Edited by Yoshita Rao)

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