What can you do to help stop the spread of COVID-19? Like most people, you’re probably spending more time in your house and taking care to keep your distance from others while shopping at the store, but what other precautions could you be taking? Surprisingly, there’s a though that one possible answer could have to do with your oral health. Read on to learn about the role your mouth might play in airborne illnesses – and whether keeping it clean with mouthwash could make a difference.
Illness and Oral Hygiene: What’s the Connection?
When you breathe through your nose, the air is effectively filtered. Viruses, bacteria, and harmful materials are caught by cilia (small hair-like structures) and mucus, preventing them from reaching the lungs as easily as they might have otherwise. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen when you breathe in through your mouth. As a result, mouth-breathers tend to be at a higher risk for illnesses in general.
Furthermore, there’s a link between good oral hygiene and your overall health. If you don’t keep your mouth clean, the bacteria in your mouth will start to build up and cause numerous health issues such as gum disease and cavities. These conditions have been linked to a number of health problems, including certain immune system disorders. In other words, not taking care of your mouth may put your body at risk; on the other hand, a proper oral hygiene routine is generally associated with a healthy body overall.
Could Good Oral Hygiene Practices Help Fight Against COVID-19?
Since COVID-19 appeared rather recently, there’s little evidence of the impact that certain oral hygiene practices might have on it. For example, it has been suggested that using certain mouth rinses (especially right before dental treatment) might help control the spread of the virus. However, according to the CDC, the evidence pointing to the effectiveness of this approach is very limited. There has been research performed regarding other viruses, but obviously those results may or may not apply to COVID-19. With that said, keeping your teeth free of cavities and your gums safe from infection can only have a positive effect on your overall well-being. In these uncertain times, your best bet is to do whatever you can to maintain excellent overall oral health.
How Can You Keep Your Mouth as Clean as Possible?
You’ve probably already realized that brushing at least twice a day (normally once in the morning and once before bed) will go a long way towards cleaning your mouth. You should also be flossing daily, and at the very least it’s a good idea to consider using mouthwash to get rid of plaque and debris and areas that you’d have trouble reaching otherwise. With these common sense practices, you can help yourself avoid a dental emergency – and might even do your part in limiting the spread of COVID-19 as well.
About the Author
Dr. Jenny Miller is a native of St. Peter and earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Minnesota. After nearly 20 years in the dental field, she has gathered plenty of experience and education that helps her provide the best care possible for her patients, be it preventive care or necessary emergency care. If you’re uncertain about what services are offered during the COVID-19 situation or have questions about your oral hygiene, get in touch with her practice, Valley View Dental, via this website or by calling (507) 934-3332.