Washing, brushing and flossing are golden rules here at Dentistry for Children.  We would be remiss if we did not keep reminding you to help your children protect their teeth from neglect and decay.  So, we begin with that point. But we also have a very intense message and some microscopic adventures concerning. Read on for a story closely related to your family’s fight against the coronavirus.

The New Normal for Many Mothers:  A Coronavirus Prevention Story

Only Begin Brushing Your Teeth After You Wash Your Hands.

Hand-Washing Before Brushing or Flossing: Super Powers Against Coronavirus and Tooth Decay.

Let us bring you a very short, very shocking story from an anonymous Orlando mom. we shall name “Lisa.” Her new reality involves three daughters off from school, ages 5, 7 and 10. Plus her husband is working in essential services and an aging mother is residing in her home. She is a very busy mom in the age of COVID-19.  Lisa thought she had been doing a good job of enforcing good hygiene.  She has kept toys and surfaces scrupulously disinfected. She has anxiously taught little girls (and grandma) the intricacies of handwashing.

Mom Horrified By Bathroom Behavior

And, twice a day she shepherds the three little girls into tooth brushing and flossing rituals. Of course, after lessons, play and television, it’s bed-time. And it was at that time that she saw a shocking bit of behavior one fateful night. Her 7-year-old bounced from the toilet to the sink. There she grabbed up her toothbrush. She didn’t miss a beat.

A lightbulb went on in Lisa’s head.  In spite of their focus on careful hygiene, the little girl had never given it a thought. She wanted to catch up with her sisters at the sink. She bounced from the handle of the toilet, right over to the sink. Lisa realized at that moment that her little one should have washed her hands before touching her tooth-brush.  Believe it or not, her 5 and 10-year-olds blushed and blinked when Lisa asked if they had all used the toilet before picking up their brushes–without washing.

Washing Before Brushing and Flossing

Dentistry for Children joins Lisa in requesting that, as part of good hygiene, you and your family wash your hands right before you brush and floss your teeth. It goes without adding that this is especially true if you go to the toilet first. Later she saw her husband and even the grandmother wince when she mentioned the unconscious bad habit.

Soap and Molecules of Coronavirus Prevention:  Washing Away the Coronavirus

Look! Clean Hands and Teeth.

Look! Clean Hands and Teeth.

The coronavirus does not require a flamethrower or a nuclear weapon. We have a huge preventative weapon at our fingertips. It’s soap. We realize you are tired of people telling you to wash your hands.

So what we are going to tell you is why soap and water are the number one weapons in your arsenal of home-defense against COVID-19. And we know you might want to explain it microscopically to your kids. You see, and we have good reason to think kids will relate to the microscopic world. You see, we have often talked about such a place where the mouth-monsters like Count DK and many superbugs live. (By the way, we hope you go to the online source of puzzles and games involving such creatures, to keep up with toothy truths served kid-style.

Super Kids are Fighting Coronavirus:  the Molecular Story

Washing with soap and water has historic benefits.

  • Soap gives you super-power to break up the vicious molecules of the Coronavirus.
  • Long before super-heroes, kings and peasants knew soap could help public health.
  • And recently it became common knowledge that washing hands“can significantly slow the rate of a pandemic and limit the number of infections.”

Washing, Blushing and Flossing:  Human History

On the one hand, there is a special legend about the invention of soap. “Rain washed the fat and ash from frequent animal sacrifices into a nearby river, where they formed a lather with a remarkable ability to clean skin and clothes.”

On the other hand, some experts think humanity might have discovered soap by boiling and crushing fatty plants. Either way, it is one of our “most effective defenses against invisible pathogens.”

Washing, Brushing, Flossing and Defeating Coronavirus Under the Microscope Lens

Let’s take a deeper look at that pure and gentle bar of simple soap that resides by our sink.

  • It’s not so innocent. You see, it would look lethal to you if you were a microorganism.
  • certainly, here’s what can happen if you are a bacteria or a virus. A simple, magical drop of soap diluted in water could smash into your skin, break it open and kill you.
  • Think of it like salt on a snail. (Ew!)
  • That’s right, you do not need super-powers or nuclear weapons to kill a virus.  Soap is “sufficient to rupture and kill many types of bacteria and viruses.” And that is true of its effect on the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, our current Pandemic.

Washing, Brushing and Flossing:  See Soap and Water Under the Microscope Lens

The Molecular Story: Soapy Water Kills Coronavirus.

The Molecular Story: Soapy Water Kills Coronavirus.

Imagine that you see soap under a high-power microscope.  It is created with molecules that look like pins or thumb-tacks.

In a cartoon style view, these soap pins molecules float around among molecules of water. The head of the “pin” bonds easily with water. (We call it hydrophilic.)
At the other end of the soap molecule, the doggy-tail of the pin-shaped soap molecule is hydrophobic. That means it hates water. But it loves to snuggle up with oils and fats.

When water is added, these soap molecules float around. Then, they interact with other molecules. They make bubbles.
In these bubbles, named micelles, the pin-shaped heads point outwardly. And their doggy-tails tuck inside.

The Battle:  Soap Bubbles versus Protein Spikes

Now viruses like the coronavirus have little coats of lipid membranes. They are fatty. These resemble double-layered mini-bubbles of fat. You have probably seen pictures.  They are spherical with “two bands of hydrophobic tails sandwiched between two rings of hydrophilic heads.”

The membranes of the coronavirus are studded with spikes made of proteins. Those spikes are the weapon with which the virus invades the living cells of your body.  Soap bubbles can break that fatty outer coat of the virus, killing it

Other viruses act the same way as the coronavirus when confronted with soap micelles. “Pathogens wrapped in lipid membranes include coronaviruses, H.I.V., viruses that cause hepatitis B and C, herpes, Ebola, Zika, dengue, and numerous bacteria. The bacteria attack the intestines and respiratory tract.”

Here’s the Good Soapy News:  Washing Kills the Coronavirus

So when you wash your hands, you are smashing the mini-monsters of viruses with soap molecules.

Brushing Teeth Fights Both Coronavirus and Decay.

Brushing and Washing Begin After Hand Washing. It’s Magic!

First, the hydrophobic tails of the free-floating soap molecules attempt their usual evasion of the water.

Then, with their appetite for oils, they almost accidentally stab and pierce the envelopes of viruses. (Remember the doggie-tails don’t like water. So the nice fatty lipid coats of the virus attract the soap. Thus the soap destroys the coronavirus by destroying their protective coating of lipids.
So, remember, destroy the viruses on your hands with soap and water before you touch your tooth-brush. Now you know why soap and water and the washing of hands is so important.

After learning of this microscopic war, we bet you never look at a shy little bar of soap in the same way again. There it sits, like a molecular gun. It is patiently waiting to blast the coronavirus off your hands. It can save you from COVID-19.

So, Dentistry for Children says, “Let’s lather it up, scrub it down and get those soap-suds going.  Then, touch that toothbrush.  After hand-washing comes brushing and flossing.