Got Flu? On a recent trip to the doctor, Jeremy’s mom expressed frustration with the number of times she and her child had already endured the flu. She explained that she kept her home meticulously clean. She made sure they all had their flu shots. And she kept them home from school if they were feverish.
Still, she, Jeremy and the other children had endured the flu twice. She and her family were exhausted, but more than that, they were exasperated and a little mystified. Got flu? Be sure you read this special edition blog.
Got Flu? One Point to Ponder: Your Toothbrush
Here at Dentistry for Children, we sympathized. It is a heavy flu season, and with the new virus, COVID-19 threatening, we could understand how all our young parents and patients were worried.
But we asked Jeremy’s mom if they had replaced their toothbrushes lately. She looked blank, then mortified. And we passed out new brushes. However, this time, we put 2 in each child’s pack. We hope this little story will help you, our readers, with an often overlooked source of viruses in your home.
Got Flu? Point Number 2: About That Handwashing
Just as we teach careful toothbrushing, we want to remind you that careful hand-washing can be real art. Only recently has it become widely know that there is a time limit. We’ve taught you for years that good tooth-brushing must last 2 minutes. Now we are standing with the CDC as we remind you good hand washing must last 20 seconds to kill the viruses. And be sure you young ones know that tiny invisible bugs might be hiding between fingers, lurking under your nails or wrapped up on grimy wrists.
A Very Unusual Blog Today, from a Dentist
Naturally, it is unusual for us to blog about anything except matters directly related to dentistry.
However, considering the contemporary concern over viruses at this time, we are departing from our normal subject matter, and we are focusing on hand-washing. By the way, do you wash your hands before you brush your teeth?
Handwashing is Like Tooth Brushing
Like tooth-brushing, handwashing is one of those healthy habits you are never too young or too old to learn. In the words of the CDC, it is one of the prime “ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.” So, as special flu-season gifts to all our young patients and their parents, we are dedicating this blog to how and when to wash hands.
You might be surprised what you or your children do not know, or do not practice. And with the flu and COVID-19 making constant headlines, we need all the healthy hints we can get. We invite you to print this blog and tape it to your family bulletin board, fridge or bathroom mirror.
When to Wash Your Hands: Often!
To prevent yourself and your loved ones from getting sick, wash your hands at all of the following important times.
- We all know we should wash before meals, but don’t forget to wash before preparing food.
- Big sisters and brothers are great nurses. But they must not forget that after taking care of a little brother or sister, they have to wash their own hands.
- Did you scrape your knee or get a splinter? Before and after putting on that band-aid, remember to wash those hands. (Yes, you can tell them your dentist told you to, even though that sounds odd.)
Got Flu: More Good Times for Hand-washing
We all respect the habit of hand-washing before or after going to the toilet. However, do you always remember to wash hands before and after changing a diaper?
- Perhaps you never even thought about it, but you must wash your hands after you blow your nose or endure a fit of coughing, or sneezing. This is a tough one, isn’t it?
- You should wash up after you have touched or petting your cat or dog.
- Always wash after touching your pet’s food, treats or waste. (We are sorry, Spot and Puff, please do not take it personally.)
- With today’s nice plastic bags and clean trash cans, it can be difficult to remember to wash your hands after you take out the trash or touch the garbage. Don’t forget.
- If someone in the family has a cold or flu, it is almost impossible to wash your hands every time you should, but do your best.
Special Hand-Washing Directions from Dentistry for Children and The CDC
Let’s stop germs from infesting our communities by washing the right way. Is there a wrong way? Well, sloppy washing is better than nothing, but let’s check out the medically approved 5-Step method.
Washing your hands is easy. And it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.
- Let’s get wet: Put your hands under clean running water and then apply soap.
- Bubble Up: Rub your hands together with lots of soap. Lather the fronts and backs of your hands.
Do not forget to scrub between your fingers, under your nails, around thumbs, and around your wrists. “Why? Lathering and scrubbing hands creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease, and microbes from skin. Microbes are present on all surfaces of the hand, often in particularly high concentration under the nails, so the entire hand should be scrubbed.”
Got Flu: Hand-Washing and a Musical Reminder
Now, perhaps you should sing: You need to scrub for 20 seconds. Here’s a timer for you: Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. That will create your 20 seconds of scrubbing time.
- Rinse Away Your Blues: At this point, rinse your hands after your scrub. Use clean, running water.
- Patty Cake Pat: Now it’s time to dry your hands. Dry your hands using a clean towel, or one of those air drying machines, even if you hate them.
Thus, we conclude the only blog that has not really featured teeth. And yet we leave you with one final reminder: Wash your hands before and after you brush your teeth, because you cannot be too careful in the flu season.
Likewise, if someone in your family is sick, move their toothbrush away from yours, preferably into another room.
By the way, we are happy to report that, since Jeremy and his mom took home their new toothbrushes, and posted this hand-washing blog on their bathroom mirror, they have not gotten the flu again.