We are all currently living in very challenging times due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. There is so much information available in the media and online that it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between good, medically sound advice and hearsay which is not evidence-based and potentially dangerous. I thought of few tips which might play a significant role in staying healthy and keep our immune system in top shape.
Since we might have limited access to oral/dental care, here is some advice which I find truly valuable:
- Do not procrastinate about brushing your teeth properly, flossing, and brushing the tongue. A build-up of bacteria in the mouth can lead to a weakening of the immune system.
- VERY IMPORTANT: If gums are bleeding especially when you floss, do not stop flossing. Instead, dip the floss in regular mouthwash or chlorhexamed forte 0.2% (concentrated mouth rinse available in pharmacies – no prescription required in Europe) to deliver bacteria-fighting antiseptic directly to the inflamed gums. Keep flossing even if it is bleeding and I promise you the bleeding will diminish within 1-2 days. After the Corona crisis definitely make an appointment to have your dentist check the periodontal pocket depths and the overall health of your gums (depths, bacterial balance…).
- Brush your tongue daily or, even better, use a tongue scraper. A considerable number of bacteria and viruses can build up on top of the tongue causing bad breath and upsetting the microbiota (bacterial flora) in the digestive tract.
- Use a mouthwash without alcohol, preferably containing essential oils, zinc, xylitol – such as Oxyfresh or BlueM
- Ease up on smoking, quit if possible. Smoking has a terrible impact on your overall health and a suppressive effect on gum immunity.
- Use a probiotic such as PerioBalance (Gum). It contains Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentis, a “good bacteria” which sticks to the teeth and gums, “keeping the surface busy” and deterring competitive, bad bacteria. It is proven to lower your risk for periodontal disease and cavities and consequently reducing the workload of your immune system.
- Check your toothbrush bristles (both electric and manual brushes)! Are they bending sideways?! Get a new one or replace the head – for electric ones. And remember, hard brushing does not remove more plaque; instead you are bending the bristles sideways, preventing the tips from cleaning in between teeth and small grooves.
- Due to social distancing and hygiene measures, it is likely that your periodic oral prophylaxis (also known as “tooth cleaning appointment”) and dentist check-up have been postponed. Make sure to schedule an appointment as soon as the restrictions are lifted and get back on track, even if you feel no pain or discomfort. It is common that chronic infections – which are most of the time non-painful – develop around non-vital, root-canal teeth or dental implants, constantly stressing the immunity and leading to immune system fatigue. If you have endodontically-treated teeth (“root canals”) do ask about getting a DVT (digital volume tomography or 3D X-ray) as it is the gold standard in radiographic diagnostics. It has repeatedly helped me to save teeth and prevent major infections.
Health begins in the mouth and it is strengthened through balanced, healthy nutrition. Watch your diet, limit gluten, saturated fats, alcohol … they can weaken your immunity and destroy valuable gut bacteria which play an important role in regulating your immune system.