With all that we have learned and are learning about COVID-19, health and wellness, it is important to practice proper hygiene protocols to protect yourself and the ones you love from getting sick. Not everyone who is sick shows signs or symptoms right away, so to protect yourself and family members. Dr. Yan Razdolsky of Buffalo Grove’s Forever Smiles Orthodontics for Children and Adults has a few dental distancing tips to help keep your family healthy.
Wash your hands before brushing or flossing
Dr. Razdolsky reminds patients they should never touch their mouth, brush their teeth or floss before thoroughly washing their hands. His recommendation is to follow the CDC rule of 20 seconds with soap and water. And, if someone in your household is sick, he suggests adding a hand sanitizer made with 60% alcohol for added safety. Don’t forget to wash again after brushing and flossing to help prevent the spread of your germs to others.
Social distance your toothbrush
Whether you think you are sick or have been exposed to others of whom you are not sure, isolating your toothbrush is an easy way to protect family members.
“It is best to avoid side by side storage of your family’s toothbrushes to help protect others in your household,” said Dr. Razdolsky. “Social distance your toothbrush instead. Store it upright in a holder or cup, and place in a separate area away from others.”
Don’t contaminate the toothpaste
Dr. Razdolsky also reminds us to look beyond the toothbrush when protecting others. If your family shares a tube of toothpaste for example, be sure you don’t allow the tip to come in contact with your toothbrush.
“While we talk of social distancing and cleaning your toothbrush, touching the toothpaste tube to the bristles can unintentionally contaminate and share harmful germs,” said Dr. Razdolsky. “This is especially important if someone in your household is actually sick. In that case your family can take extra precautions to prevent contamination by applying the toothpaste to a clean cotton swab and then on the brush,” he added.
Clean your tools
“Many people do not realize that flu viruses can survive on toothbrushes and other surfaces for up to three days after first exposure,” said Dr. Razdolsky. “That is why we suggest patients clean brush handles, orthodontic instruments and wipe down counter areas after they brush. This is an easy way to help protect themselves and other family members from spreading germs, by simply using a household disinfectant, 70% alcohol or diluted bleach solution,” he added.
Do a toothbrush check when you’ve been sick
Although Dr. Razdolsky shared with us that flu viruses can survive on toothbrushes some time, you are not likely at risk of getting sick again if you use the same toothbrush. Especially since they are your own germs. But you should be sure to keep your dental distance from others in your family to keep them safe. Now with that said… evaluating replacing your toothbrush (or the head if you use an electric one) when you’ve been sick is still a good practice.
The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months (sooner if the bristles look worn out). Although you will not make yourself sick again, you can use this time as an opportunity to do a toothbrush check and replace your brush if it looks like it might be time.
Hydrate and brush to get and stay healthy
When you are sick, you need plenty of fluids and nothing beats water. Medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines and pain relievers can make you dehydrated. Water prevents dry mouth which can put you at higher risk for cavities. So, drink plenty of water and use sugarless cough drops, throat lozenges to keep you mouth from getting dry.
“One of the best feelings when I am sick is simply brushing my teeth,” said Dr. Razdolsky. “A clean mouth and fresh breath give me a sense of wellbeing and I actually start to feel better. It is always important to take care of your Forever Smile, especially when you are sick.”