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Job Keeper” and “Mouth Keeper” during the COVID-19 Pandemic

We heard of Job-Seeker, Job-Keeper and now dentists are urging that people become Mouth-Keepers!

Throughout this COVID pandemic, more people stayed at home isolated, working from home, avoiding social contact and some found these new-world measures led to boredom and depression, snacking and increased alcohol intake. 

There has been a lot of emphasis placed on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic but almost no mention has been made in the media concerning the effects of these “stay-at-home measures” on oral and dental health.  The increased risk of oral and dental disease is largely a result of changes in diet with increased snacking of sugar-containing snacks and increased alcohol intake.

There needs to be an increased health-focus placed on oral health, dental care, and looking after yourself to prevent dental disease from increasing due to poor oral home care and an increase in the consumption of sugar.

When people are bored, comfort eating is common and government statistics have shown there has been a very large increase in alcohol sales throughout all States and Territories.   Snacking increases, and the types of food that are consumed are generally not healthy food options.  Instead they often contain refined carbohydrates, sugars, and junk food, alcoholic beverages and fizzy soft drinks are consumed far more.  These sugary foods feed your dental plaque and promote dental decay and gum disease and increased alcohol intake increase peoples risk of oral cancer.

Less than half the nation attends a dentist for dental checks.  More decay is present now than in the past decade and 1 in 3 kids, by the age of 5 years have dental decay.  This is a depressing and sad state of affairs and our children will pay the price in the years to come.  But we can do something about it!

The slogan promoted by Australian Dental Association during Dental Health Week (August 3rd-9th, 2020) was “Get Sugar Savvy”.  The aim of the campaign was to promote awareness of the contents of the foods we buy in the supermarket by reading the food labels.  This can be both shocking and educational when you see how much sugar the food packets and tins contain.  The aim of this awareness of sugar content  was to promote a reduction in the consumption of fizzy soft drinks and start to make healthy food choices for ourselves, our children and our families. 

If we don’t start to change habits (reduce sugar and alcohol consumption) and improve oral home care (more effective removal of dental plaque), then dental health is going to plummet, and obesity is going to rocket with increased heart disease, diabetes and strokes!  We can all individually make a difference.

The Australian Dental Association has promoted the Top Ten Tips for improving oral and dental health.

  1. Brush twice a day for more than 2 minutes taking time to work between the teeth, brushing the tongue side of the teeth, and don’t forget to brush the tongue as this has billions of bacteria on it!
  2. Use Fluoride-containing toothpaste for all the family. Small kids can use Fluoride from 18 months of age.  Supervise their brushing, and teach them how to do it.  If you don’t know the best way, talk to a dentist or dental therapist or hygienist.
  3. You must remove plaque from between teeth. Normal brushing cannot do this so either use dental floss or brushes for cleaning in the spaces like Piksters.
  4. DITCH THE RINSE! Spit out the excess toothpaste after brushing only and leave the residue of the toothpaste on the teeth as this is how the fluoride gets to work its protective magic on your teeth. Mouthwashes have very little benefit and in comparison with the effect of good tooth brushing, they are insignificant.
  5. Get sugar-savvy! The World Health Organisation recommends NO MORE THAN 6 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR A DAY (that’s 24 grams only)! So cut back on sugar now.  Many soft drinks contain more than twice the recommended daily total dietary intake in a single serve.
  6. Check on sugar content of foods you eat. Be your own Sugar Detective!  Check all the food labels.  Usually they report sugar in grams per 100 grams of the product.  One teaspoon is 4 grams!  So divide the reported sugar per 100gm by 4 and that’s how many teaspoons of sugar per 100gm of that food.  Remember only 6 teaspoons of sugar (24 grams)  per day!!!
  7. Make sure sugar is low down the list of contents. The higher up the list it is the greater proportion of the content it is.  Aim for less than 5 grams per 100 grams.
  8. Try to avoid pre-packaged or processed foods. Make your own food from scratch then you know what’s in there!
  9. If you’re peckish, avoid the sweet junk and choose wisely. Go for nuts and cheese that have protein in and therefore they will keep you satisfied for longer.  Control alcohol intake to safe levels as promoted in government health information.
  10. Be creative in sweetening food using alternative sources like Stevia, but ideally try and wean yourself and your family, especially children, off sweet things. A sweet tooth is learned not natural.  So un-learn the sugar habit for your dental health and to reduce the obesity problem that is running rampant through Australian society today.



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