Close dentistry student gloves during classes

Self-care is a priority to help prevent oral disease

Date: October 2020

Author: Louise Sinclair

Studying to become a dentist is a rewarding experience, but there’s no doubt it can be stressful at times. This is truer now more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, when dental students are facing unprecedented challenges in both their personal and professional lives. Under the current circumstances, self-care has never been more important, including when it comes to maintaining good oral health.

The pandemic experience

After the COVID-19 pandemic began, dental schools across the country closed their doors and students were encouraged to study remotely and isolate at home. Many students are still doing so, but all this time at home can throw your normal daily routines out of the window. You might find yourself skipping or forgetting day-to-day habits like brushing or flossing, and you might also be tempted to snack more often or make unhealthier food choices.

Then there’s your mental wellbeing. Understandably, stress and anxiety are running high for lots of students right now. Not only are you adapting to major changes in your education, you may also be dealing with concerns about your own health or that of your loved ones. You may be one of the many people feeling isolated or lonely because of social distancing or quarantining, especially if you’ve had to leave behind your social circle on campus.

Stress and anxiety can make those day-to-day good habits harder to stick to, and make you more likely to make unhealthy choices. They may also cause muscle tension and bruxism, which can result in temporomandibular joint pain, tooth wear, cracks and dental fractures.

All of these factors can increase your need for dental care, at a time when getting that care can be difficult. For that reason, self-care is more important to dental students now than ever before.

Maintaining good oral health habits

As dental students, we know the importance of prevention in oral health care. Now is the time to step up your home oral care, banish any bad habits you've acquired during the pandemic, and really gain as much value as possible from your routine.

Get back to basics and make sure you’re not forgetting (or skipping!) the twice-daily brushing and interdental cleaning, as recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA).

Choose a good all-round, multi-benefit fluoride toothpaste like Colgate® Total to help maintain the health of oral hard and soft tissues and achieve Whole Mouth Health. If you’re at increased risk of dental caries, a high-level fluoride tooth paste provides additional protection against dental caries.

To amplify the benefits of toothbrushing, consider a brush guides you to improve your brushing coverage, and helps you to brush for the recommended two minutes. It’s also connected to a handy app, which tracks your progress and rewards you for good oral care habits.

To remove dental biofilm approximally, follow your brushing with interdental cleaning instance with dental floss. You may also benefit from using a rinse to help prevent and reduce plaque and gingivitis.

Finally, the ADA recommends keeping sugary foods and snacking to a minimum. A healthy diet will support not only your oral health, but your overall physical and mental health too – something we can all benefit from in these challenging times!

Managing stress

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is likely to affect our lives for some time. However, there are ways you can manage the stress and reduce the impact of the pandemic on your wellbeing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares the following advice:

  • Get regular exercise and plenty of sleep.
  • Try meditation, breathing exercises, and stretching to calm your body and mind.
  • Take breaks from the news, including on social media.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol and drug use.
  • Make time for activities you enjoy.
  • Reach out and connect with others, such as your classmates, friends and family.