Life as we know it has changed significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, and this could be having significant effects on our oral health. Our daily routines have changed, and if you’re anything like me, this extra time spent at home means that the temptation to go to the kitchen pantry or fridge and reach for that snack is real! Working from home, easy access to food, and night time boredom all encourage snacking.
How does snacking affect our oral health?
Comfort eating is likely to increase during this time and those sugary foods we reach for in an attempt to boost our moods can be detrimental for our oral health. When we eat these foods, they spike our blood sugar levels and it in turn encourages a cycle of snacking that can be difficult to break. When these habits persist, there can be an increase in dental decay and erosion of the teeth.
Each time we eat and drink, plaque bacteria builds up in our mouth. This produces acids that attack the teeth, causing tooth decay and erosion. Usually, the mouth can neutralise these acids by producing saliva, but constant snacking does not give the mouth a chance to recover. This leaves our teeth susceptible to acid attacks which in turn lead to tooth decay.
We also have to be aware that this lockdown can have an effect on our children’s diets. Many children drink water throughout the day at school and have allotted snack times. The pressure we are under being at home and trying to resist our own or our child’s demands for sweet treats and snacks throughout the day can be downright exhausting! The struggle is real.
Not to mention that sneaky glass of alcohol which can turn into 2, 3 or 4 and then becomes a daily occurrence all too easily.
How to maintain healthy habits during COVID
Striving to maintain our usual daily routines and eating habits can be quite challenging during this period. These changes in our daily routines can also be an opportunity to form new and healthy habits.
Some ways you can improve your daily routine include:
- Use your timer/alarm clock function to set reminders for brushing/flossing, sipping water throughout the day and meal times to avoid snacking.
- Try to limit snacking and choose healthy snacks instead.
- Supervise your shopping trolley – apart from the fact that you can’t spend long in the supermarket these days, writing a list before you go with healthy options for your food and sticking to this is a great way to make sure when you come home you only have healthy options. Look at nutritional labels, it is recommended that we consume no more than 6 teaspoons/ 24 grams of sugar a day.
- Brush your teeth twice daily for 2 mins and get into that habit which you’ve never had time to master – FLOSS LIKE A BOSS. There are some great online videos on the best techniques. Otherwise, get a flossette, use an interdental brush (make sure you get the right size to fit between your teeth), and DON’T FORGET to brush your tongue.
- Try placing your floss/interdental brush in the shower so you’re more likely to get into the habit.
- Get prepared the night before.
- Keep a water bottle filled and again put on an alarm every hour to have a glass of this water.
- Cut up some vegetables so they are ready to go in a container in the fridge.
- Make a lunch box for yourself and your children just as you would if you or they were going to school or work. That way you can stick to eating what’s in that knowing its healthy
- Put an alarm on for eating times and stick to these. The routine can help keep those unwanted trips to the pantry to a minimum.
- If your feeling that temptation to snack and eat:
- Take three breaths
- Have a glass of water
- Chew some sugar-free chewing gum to stop that sweet craving and stimulate saliva which in turn protects your teeth and reduces acid.
- Ask yourself after this, am I still hungry? and feel what your body is saying to you.
- If you can feel the pains of hunger in your tummy, then try snacking on your favourite vegetable first or going to the lunch box you prepared and eat everything in this.
- Some healthy snacking options include:
- Fresh vegetables and fruit
- Plain yoghurt
- Drink water – it’s not only great for your teeth, it also keeps you hydrated and washes away any food debris.
- If you have the time, make your own sweet treats with healthier tooth-friendly sweeteners such as xylitol and stevia – both available at most supermarkets these days.
- Things to avoid or Limit:
- Fruit juice
- Fizzy drinks including too much soda water/mineral water and kombucha they are all acidic and can contribute to your teeth breaking down
Please don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s important that we acknowledge we are all doing our best.
Toorak Dental Studio is here to help
We are here to help you with some tips on how to keep your oral health in prime condition until we can see you for your next dental check up and hygiene appointment. Your health and wellbeing – which includes your ORAL HEALTH – is where we can support and guide you.
By taking the opportunity to educate yourself about the best way to keep your teeth and gums healthy during this time is a great way to form long-term healthy lifestyle choices.
Despite the challenges we all face, we want you to feel motivated to have this time to make some positive behavioural changes.
Even though in lockdown you can only visit us if you have a dental emergency, we are here for you if you have any questions, so please stay in touch.
Book your next appointment
You can book your next appointment with us so we can address any issues that may have developed during lockdown, and we look forward to seeing you on the other side!
Stay safe and smile!
Please call the practice at any time on 9804 7710 or book online.