Maintaining a healthy mouth is essential for maintaining the health of the rest of your body. And, for establishing immunity to illness. Why? “The food we take in, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and anything we put in our mouth, including our toothbrush, has potential for introducing harmful bacteria, viruses, and toxins into our bodies,” says Dr. Jamie Alexander of Boynton Beach, FL. “Not only do we breathe in and swallow contaminated air, food, and fluids, but open spots in the gum tissue and teeth can channel contaminants directly into the blood supply.”
Amazing mucous membranes line the mouth, nose, eyelids, trachea (windpipe), lungs, stomach, intestines, and other organs. These membranes are a defensive barrier, protecting the body from harmful bacteria, viruses, and toxins. The saliva in the mouth also helps with this due to its high acidic content. But it’s open spots in the mouth’s mucosa (such as where gum tissue pulls away from teeth when the tissue is inflamed) and in teeth (such as fractures and cavities from decay) in dental enamel that enable contaminants to get into the pulp of teeth where there are blood vessels keeping your teeth alive.
“When the mouth is healthy, the oral immune system is healthy which contributes to the entire body’s immunity to disease. That’s the bottom line,” says Dr. Alexander.
Keeping infection out and getting treatment is important at all times, not just during this uncertain time when we are sheltering in place. The governor of Florida is permitting dentists to provide essential treatment, especially when postponement of treatment raises the risk of systemic infection and immune system suppression.
Even though dental offices are not currently open for the full range of normal services, I want you to call if you are experiencing symptoms of infection in your mouth (such as pain in a tooth or an abscess in your gum tissue). Don’t be embarrassed to ask to have a conversation with me. Some people have a high pain tolerance level and postpone treatment that can be more effectively achieved when done early. I want you to feel comfortable about calling to discuss any change that has happened in our mouth that concerns you.
I will safely do all I can to provide essential urgent care to one patient at a time in my Boynton Beach office.
To help prevent dental problems from happening during coronavirus, brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. The last time you brush should be before you go to bed, and you should floss before brushing to clean between your teeth. Water flossing with a WaterPik and using an electric toothbrush will also improve the effectiveness of your mouth cleaning, but manual toothbrushes and string floss or interdental flossing devices can be used. Swishing with antimicrobial mouthwash daily will help, but if you don’t have that on hand, you can swish with warm saltwater.
Never share a toothbrush. Store your toothbrush in a clean area of your bathroom where it can air dry. Change to a new toothbrush at least every three months. “Personally, I change mine every 30 days or when I see any evidence of fraying,” says Dr. Alexander.