Dr. Pelumi Adeloye, DMD, MPH, Discusses Maintaining your Oral Health During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Posted on April 17, 2020
Dr. Pelumi Adeloye, DMD, MPH, Discusses Maintaining your Oral Health During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally transformed our daily lives in many ways.  Our dental health may not seem to be a top priority during these trying times, however neglecting care can lead to many oral diseases, which in turn will affect our overall health.

Dental offices across the country, including those in our community, have been asked to only provide emergency treatment until further notice.  Even with limiting care to emergency situations and with all of the precautions we have taken to reduce exposure, it is important to understand that providing in-office treatment still poses a risk to patients, providers and dental staff.

In order to reduce the strain on healthcare facilities and the risk of exposure, please only seek treatment if you are experiencing a true dental emergency such as pain and swelling. For all other emergencies, refer to “Temporary solutions for dental problems” guideline below.

Here are a few guidelines to ensure your oral health is in tip-top shape during this pandemic.

Maintain your Daily Oral Routine:

  • Brush a minimum of twice daily.  Use a soft bristle brush for at least two minutes give special attention to your gumline. Don’t forget your tongue and those hard-to-reach areas!
  • Keep toothbrushes clean! Soak in a mixture of mouthwash and hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes after use, then leave to dry.  Avoid sharing your toothbrushes to avoid contamination.
  • Floss twice daily if possible.  Flossing removes food between the teeth and underneath the gumline where your toothbrush can’t reach.


  • Maintain a balanced diet. This not only strengthens your overall health but also reduces the consumption of cavity-causing foods high in starch or sugar.
  • Limit snacking.  Frequent and excessive snacking increases your risk of cavities.
  • Limit sugary and acidic drinks like fruit juices, sodas and coffee to avoid weakening the enamel (top layer) on your teeth. If you must have these drinks, please follow with rinsing your mouth with water. NOTE: Consumption of hot liquids can be soothing to some symptomatic patients.
  • Drink plenty of water.  Drinking water between and during meals greatly benefits your whole body including your mouth.

Avoid smoking:

Smoking causes limited blood flow to your gums, resulting in increased bacteria growth. This increases your risk for gum infection!  The goal is to optimize your immune system during this pandemic. Hence, a healthy mouth allows the body’s immune system to fight off other infections.

Temporary Solutions for Dental Problems:

  • Broken or ill-fitting dentures. Visit the pharmacy for denture repair/reline kits and contact your dentist for further guidance.
  • Dental Pain. Notable symptoms of concern include swelling and continuous pain. Your dentist should be contacted even if you may not be able to visit the office.
  • Pain without swelling. A combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication, can help with dental pain. Please note that it is imperative to follow instructions on medication labels. If pain persists, contact your dentist for adequate dosage and guidance.
  • Pain with swelling. A combination of OTC pain medications and warm salt water rinses can help with pain and swelling. It is highly recommended to contact your dentist for further guidance. NOTE: If swelling causes extreme difficulty breathing and/or swallowing, please go to the Emergency Room.
  • Pain of the cheek, gum, tongue and lip. For soft tissue pain without swelling, OTC pain medications and OTC medicated gel (i.e. “Orajel”) can provide temporary relief.  Remember, children experiencing pain should be given children’s medication, and you can call your dentist or pediatric dentist with any questions.
  • Tooth fracture, dislodged or lost fillings, crowns and bridges. OTC temporary filling material can be ordered online or found at your local pharmacy. Keywords such as “filling repair or loose tooth cap” can be searched online to guide you to these resources.

As always, contact your dentist if you have questions or concerns.

Dental Emergencies:        

On March 16th, 2020, the American Dental Association (ADA) advised dental providers to limit office visits to emergency procedures only. This decision allows for the nation’s supply of personal protective equipment to be preserved. These measures also limit the risk of transmission of the virus at the dental office, and preserve the safety of our patients and dental staff. Because some dental clinics are still open for dental emergencies the burden on urgent care clinics is reduced. Please do not visit the Health Access Network’s Walk-in Care for your dental care needs, except for a true emergency.

Your dentist can consult with you on the phone and help you with situations such as a toothache or loose crown. If you have sharp, throbbing pain in your teeth, mouth or gum, your dentist will determine if your case qualifies as a dental emergency.  If your dentist determines that you are at risk of a bacterial infection that causes swelling, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or other high risk conditions, you may need to be seen in the dental office.  You should only be going to your dental office if you have been advised by your dentist or dental staff to do so, and you have a scheduled appointment.

You can visit the American Dental Association website (www.ada.org) for more resources and information.

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