You may not already know that our oral health can play a role in the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, but studies have shown that poor oral health can make COVID-19 symptoms worse. This may be related to pre-existing conditions or other factors, but the fact remains, the better we take care of our mouths, the healthier we are.
But now, a new study out of Britain has identified some new and surprising ways our oral health and hygiene care may make the transmission of COVID-19 easier within families. Here’s what you need to know about reducing your risk.
A study out of the United Kingdom found that approximately 25 percent of those surveyed are willing to share a toothbrush with family members. This is a bad idea for many reasons, but when it comes to transmitting COVID-19, it’s a particularly dangerous idea, as the virus can live on the toothbrush and be easily transmitted when shared.
Another toothbrush related way to reduce risk is to throw away your old brush and replace it with a new brush following a COVID-19 infection. If you are healthy, we recommend you change your brush every three to four months, or when the bristles become bent or worn.
Think your toothpaste tube is safe? Think again. The same United Kingdom study found that even sharing a tube of toothpaste with a person who has COVID-19 can spread the illness from one person to another, likely because the tube may touch the bristles of your brush while dispensing toothpaste. It is recommended that if you do contract COVID-19 that you immediately stop sharing toothpaste tubes and separate your dental hygiene supplies from those which belong to people who are not infected.
Storing toothbrushes and other tools together is not recommended, even when we’re not in a global pandemic, but it is especially important now that we are. Experts recommend brushes be kept separately, with bristles up and in a dry place.
According to the study, cleansing of toothbrushes helps mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Those who rinsed their brushes in mouthwash were found to have lower instances of contracting COVID-19 from family members. Furthermore, cleansing the tongue via tongue scraping was also found to reduce the risk of contracting the illness.
Hopefully, these tips will help stop or slow the transmission of COVID-19 and other illnesses, but they are good tips to practice even when healthy, so definitely keep them in mind when caring for your oral health. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Dr. Abelar’s office.