Can denture and oral hygiene help slow the spread of COVID-19?
Medical and dental professionals have already been practicing the highest hygiene standards for decades, including correct hand washing technique, wearing masks, and other protective equipment to control infections. These preventative techniques are based on the knowledge that infections are spread via direct contact with saliva droplets, and sometimes indirect contact via touching surfaces with infected saliva droplets already spread on that surface by an infected person.
COVID-19 infection control has now changed the way elderly people are cared for. Previously, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, were not commonly available or used at aged care facilities, resulting in increased infection for the elderly.
A key aspect of COVID-19 infection control has been hand washing using regular soap and sanitiser. The same detergents used to clean hands can also be found in toothpaste and dental hygiene products, prompting dental professionals to reaffirm their message of cleaning teeth for 2 minutes at least twice a day as part of standard hygiene practices.
Teeth should be brushed prior to leaving home and accessing public transport in the morning, and also prior to medical professionals dressing in PPE. This practice can easily be applied for non-dental or medical professionals, and can be suggested to patients as a way of reducing infections.
Toothpaste can simply be applied to teeth throughout the day using a thoroughly cleaned finger.
Ensuring the elderly maintain good oral hygiene
Dental hygiene standards can be more challenging to communicate to the elderly population, who may have difficulty maintaining daily oral hygiene due to age related disability or cognitive disability. Eldery people often rely on others for hygiene maintenance, who may not have the capacity to prioritise oral hygiene.
Oral hygiene standards need to be reaffirmed across aged care facilities and within families and professional communities. Many elderly people in Australia wear dentures, or partial dentures. Poorly maintained dentures can act as a vessel for viruses such as COVID-19, meaning oral hygiene is more important than ever, and we, as a community, need to ensure our elderly family members are being protected.
No special cleaning agents are needed to maintain good denture hygiene, regular toothpaste and detergent solution soaks are sufficient to control infection on dentures. Removing dentures while sleeping is also another excellent oral hygiene practice, and for those who don’t have any natural teeth, simply using an application of toothpaste on the finger to clean gums is sufficient.
As a result of COVID-19, we’re suggesting an amendment to the slogan: Stay Alert, Wash Your Hands and Brush Your Teeth!
Based on the original article, Denture hygiene reminders could help to slow COVID-19.
Learn about our COVID-19 patient safety measures.