Written by Samantha Durnford and Dr. Jeanie Luong, DDS
Boost your immune system and practice these basic tips from an expert to protect yourself against viruses. Oral healthcare is essential to boosting full body wellness, which contributes to your immune system’s ability to fight viral infections.
Many people are wondering what they can do, above and beyond social distancing and hand washing, to prevent COVID-19. There’s no secret – the best thing anyone can do to add an extra layer of protection against coronavirus is to take care of your body, from head to toe.
Your mouth is one place that can help you ward off illnesses. Things like brushing, flossing, and the right diet are some things that contribute to good oral wellness. But, there’s more you can do to start with your mouth for whole-body wellness. To stay feeling good, it’s important to know what to do to make sure your mouth is as healthy as can be.
While it may be a little longer than usual before you make a dental appointment, you don’t have to wait to get your mouth in the best shape possible. Proper oral health can help keep your body healthy and prevent bacteria from getting into your body.
Here are five reasons why overall wellness starts in the mouth:
1. Good food and drinks mean a healthy mouth and body.
If you’re stuck inside and snacking almost 24/7 – you’re not alone! Being so close to our kitchen means that it’s easy to reach for pop, beer, or a glass of wine. But before you reach for that next drink, consider that acidic drinks will erode your teeth over time. Even things like sports drinks can cause damage to your teeth. Aside from possibly harming your teeth, these types of beverages can hurt your body too. Alcoholic drinks are usually high in sugar and can lead to weight gain and poor gut health. You won’t do your body any favors if you happen to get sick, no matter what the illness is.
Alcohol is especially bad for your mouth and should enjoy it in moderation. Alcohol is dehydrating and can negatively impact your immune system. It could also affect your sleep and tempt you to eat those snacks you were avoiding! Cutting alcohol is a great way to boost your immune system to prevent COVID.
Another thing to avoid is hard foods, like crusty bread, hard nuts, candy, and chewing on ice. All these things can damage your teeth, especially if you have fillings. Stick to softer, healthy foods to boost your overall wellness and keep your teeth healthy.
2. Stress hurts more than just your teeth.
It’s no secret that the whole world is feeling a bit more stressed these days. Whether you’re working from home, have kids off from school, or are stressed about your future, we get it. It’s common for people who feel stressed to grind or clench their teeth, especially at night. Wearing a night guard, no matter how nerdy it looks, will protect your teeth from unnecessary wear and tear.
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If you don’t have a night guard and find yourself clenching your teeth or experiencing jaw, head, or neck pain, it’s important you find ways to relax. Things like yoga, meditation, and self-massaging your jaw and temples, are all things that will help your teeth and help you de-stress and unwind. There are many videos online for yoga, meditation, and self-massage, so find your favorites and practice them at least once a day.
3. Drink more water.
Our immune systems thrive off getting enough water. Water is so incredibly important in helping your body function smoothly. Water also helps your mouth stay nice and fresh. Things like preventing illness, all the way to having great skin and hair, are all thanks to our best friend, H20.
A good rule of thumb is that you should be drinking about eight 8-ounce glasses a day, which is about 2 liters. The most popular water bottles are 500mls. If you have one of those lying around, it will take four of those bottles a day to get the recommended amount. Set a goal of finishing a bottle of water in the morning, at lunch, in the afternoon, and with dinner.
If plain water doesn’t float your boat, try lemon water, herbal teas, or other fruit infused teas. Avoid caffeinated drinks since caffeine is a diuretic, which makes you use the bathroom more and require you to drink more water. Coffee can stain your teeth, and it’s acidic, which can damage your teeth.
If you’re stuck at home all day, you may be drinking coffee more often than usual. Try and set a daily limit and drink an extra glass of water if you enjoy a caffeinated beverage. Changing what you drink and help you prevent covid.
4. Quit smoking and vaping (or any other bad habits).
It’s no secret that dentists everywhere loath smoking and vaping for the damage it causes to your mouth and teeth, not to mention what they can do to the rest of your body. With more time on our hands, now is possibly the best time to quit those bad habits. Smokers are also higher-risk of complications should they contract COVID-19. This pandemic could be considered a wake-up call for those wanting to quit smoking.
It may also be a great time to practice cooking more at home, eating a healthy diet, or finally getting around to start a garden to grow some veggies. Eating better helps your oral hygiene and your immune system.
5. Sleep well
Staying on a schedule can be tough during social isolation, especially if your day starts and ends at home. Good sleep is essential to overall wellness and your oral health. Studies show there is a link between lack of sleep and issues with your mouth, such as periodontitis (deep pockets between your gums and teeth that can cause your teeth to loosen and move around.)
Aim for at least 7-10 hours of sleep. A rested body is a strong body. It’s important for your overall health to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. If you’re having trouble falling to sleep, consider trying a mediation app. Avoid screen time before bed, and skip caffeine and sugar at least a few hours before you’re ready to get some rest to help your body prevent COVID-19..
Healthy mouth, healthy body
Your mouth is so much more than just your smile. Your mouth protects your body from bacteria that can cause illnesses and disease. It is a remarkable vessel that helps you get all the nutrients into your body and keep your immune system strong.
Just like you take the time to think about how to make a dental appointment, you should also think about all the things you can do to keep your mouth healthy. All these tips will help your immune system fight and prevent viruses like COVID-19. You won’t regret it.