We’ve all been monitoring the latest news surrounding COVID-19, and the impact it continues to have on our communities, neighbourhoods, and families. We understand this is a stressful time. You may not be able to visit your dentist for routine cleanings, fillings, and crowns, or you might be concerned about seeking help if you have severe toothache, swelling or another dental emergency. To help clear up confusion and make sure you have trusted answers, we've created a list of commonly asked questions to help you better navigate your oral health during this time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can good oral hygiene prevent COVID-19?
While we are still learning more about COVID-19 and its spread, there is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be prevented by engaging in good oral hygiene. However, we do know that practicing good oral hygiene can reduce dental diseases like cavities and periodontal disease and maintaining good oral health positively impacts your overall health.
It’s important to note that respiratory viruses such as COVID-19 initiate and spread in the nasal and oral cavities and throat. Touching one’s eye can also be a source of transmission. Practising good oral hygiene will have no effect on transmission to these locations.
The CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) has a number of recommendations about how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, however the recommendations don’t include oral hygiene practices as a protective measure. If you and your family are staying home to help prevent the spread, in addition to the recommended CDC measures, take the opportunity to showcase and encourage good oral care habits for your kids.
Should I replace or disinfect my toothbrush if I’ve had COVID-19?
It’s a great practice to clean your toothbrush after every use. If you’re recovering from an illness, including if you tested positive for or believe you had COVID-19, it’s smart to replace your toothbrush. If you’re unable to replace it, consider disinfecting the brush head to help reduce bacteria.
What oral COVID-19 symptoms should I be aware of?
According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 reported a wide range of symptoms 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus including a cough, aches and pains, fever, and loss of taste and smell. Currently, it’s difficult to state what kind of oral manifestations will result as the disease and symptoms continue to evolve. Additionally, many oral symptoms may be caused by other illnesses or allergies. If you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, please contact your healthcare provider.
What are dentists doing to prevent COVID-19?
The CDC recommends that "services should be limited to emergency visits only during this period of the pandemic. These actions help staff and patients stay safe, preserve personal protective equipment and patient care supplies, and expand the available health system capacity." If your dentist determines that you need to have an in-person appointment, follow any directions from your dentist about reducing the risk of transmission.
Should I go to the dentist during the COVID-19 outbreak?
No, only visit your dentist if it’s an emergency. Looking for coronavirus dental care tips? You can call your dentist to help assess whether your dental ailment falls into the urgent or emergency category. Even if your dental practice is closed, there may be an emergency number or contact instructions available on its voicemail message. Below, we provide some tips on managing non-emergency dental ailments to better help you care for your teeth safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
What constitutes a dental emergency during COVID-19?
According to the ADA (American Dental Association) Guidelines, a dental emergency is one that is potentially life-threatening and requires immediate treatment for:
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Bacterial infection that could compromise the patient’s airway
- Trauma involving facial bones, potentially compromising the patient’s airway
Urgent dental care are those conditions that require immediate attention to relieve pain or risk of infection. The ADA recommends that dentists should use their professional judgement in determining a patient’s need for urgent or emergency care.
We understand that the different responses to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can make people unsure of what qualifies as urgent dental care or a dental emergency. Here are some instances where you should contact your dentist immediately:
- If a large piece of the tooth, or the whole tooth is missing
- Nerve damage is apparent, such as feeling of numbness
- You are showing signs of an abscess or infection (pain, swelling, hot to the touch and redness)
- If you suspect that you or someone else has a broken jaw
- If you've had a recent root canal and are worried about the level of pain, swelling or malaise
- Any other abnormal symptoms
Can zinc kill COVID-19?
No, zinc can’t kill the COVID-19 virus. Let's start with the basics. Zinc is an essential mineral known for its antibacterial properties and plays a critical role in our bodies, including the promotion of a healthy immune system. Additionally, zinc is naturally present in our mouths and zinc included in toothpaste is safe for use.
However, the use of zinc to kill or prevent the COVID-19 virus has not been studied or validated. The best way to help protect yourself against COVID-19 is to wash your hands, follow CDC guidelines and practise social distancing.
We hope these tips are helpful, so you can take the best care of yourself and each other.