Q&A with Dr. Pixie McKenna

We are so thrilled to have Dr. Pixie McKenna as a brand ambassador for Spotlight Oral Care. We have teamed up with her to give you some advice on how you can look after your health while at home during Covid19. Here are her top tips! 
 

 
Top tips for caring for your health during this crisis?
Staying healthy is crucial during the Corona crisis. Make sure you eat healthily, keep to a routine, take all regular medications as usual, get exercise where you can and get sufficient sleep.

We are all out of sync thanks to the lockdown. While those who are well are carrying on as normal as they can, don't forget the basic principles of handwashing, social distancing and isolation if there’s a risk of infection or exposure to infection. If you are in any doubt seek advice from a healthcare professional.

For those with pre-existing medical conditions it is imperative to stay on top of them. Now is not the time to let the management of your diabetes slide, run out of your blood pressure pills or throw caution to the wind with your diet. We all have to do our bit to stay well and in doing so we can ensure others remain well.

Understandably there are lots of potential medical problems over and above COVID19 so if you have concerns about a new symptom or if there is a deterioration in an ongoing symptom, seek help. Lots of advice and intervention can be done via a telephone consultation or video consultation. And if there is an urgent requirement to be seen face to face, you will be seen by a doctor, rest assured.

Finally, when it comes to unhealthy habits, don’t resort to alcohol through stress or boredom. Cut down or ideally cut out smoking - we know smokers don’t fare as well when they get COVID. Think about your diet, every calorie counts. Steer clear of snacks, if you must snack, swap sweet treats for healthy ones and try to have your regular 3 meals a day. It’s easy to pile on the pounds when you are out of routine. 
 
How to be mindful of your mental health?
It’s hard to get to a Corona free zone, we are either talking about it, watching the news or hearing about it through our social channels. Step away from your phone and tablet, turn off notifications and ban it from your conversations with friends. Of course, it’s essential to stay up to date with developments, but if you find it distressing, delegate the responsibility to someone else in your household.

Try to get enough sleep - it might seem hard with all the stress, worry and uncertainty that’s around at the moment, but try hard to get yourself into a routine. Remember the things you do during the day impact your night time sleep. So, ditch cigarettes, caffeine and alcohol in the lead up to bed. Adopt a policy of “electronic shutdown” and turn off all electronic devices 1 hour before bed to benefit sleep. Keep your phone outside of your room. Brain dump your worries before you go to bed, either write them down or phone a friend for a bit of moral support. You know how it’s hard to go to sleep after a belly full of food, well same is true if you have a head full or negative thoughts and worries. Make sure your sleep environment is conducive to sleep, so bed covers, clutter, light and noise can all affect your ability to get your head down.

By day, keep in touch with people, if you can do a video call It gives both parties a big boost, because let’s face it the day can be long and boring. Make it a regular fixture for a catch up and a gossip and get others involved.

Make sure you do some exercise. You can do lots without ever leaving your living room- no equipment required. There is an unlimited supply of free classes and sessions online. So, get involved, it boosts energy moral and even immunity!

If you are struggling with your mental health get in touch with a healthcare professional and talk it out. Counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists and GPs are all still working, albeit remotely. Seek help if you need it. Don’t wait for the pandemic to pass.
 
Oral care tips?
As a GP with my own practice in London, I’m aware that most dental practices are now closed for non-emergency work. With this, it is crucial that we look after our oral health and the oral health of our families. There is a direct link between poor oral health and heart disease, risk of stroke and respiratory diseases. By keeping your mouth healthy this can contribute to better overall health. Please see my top tips below:

  • Use products with active ingredients such as fluoride - now is not the time to be trying out natural products. Dentists recommend active ingredients like fluoride to combat decay and chlorhexidine to promote gum health.
  • Look to invest in a sonic brush to keep your teeth cleaner for longer - Studies show that sonic brushes are more effective at plaque removal than manual brushes which will reduce gum disease and inflammation. Sonic toothbrushes do the work for you so you know you are getting the best clean.
  • Wash your hands after brushing your teeth - There is evidence that viruses can be found in saliva so always ensure you’re washing your hands after brushing your teeth.  
  • Keep your toothbrush separately from the other members of your household, don’t keep them all in the same holder as this is a quick way to spread germs. 
  • Resist snacking temptations. Try to eat more at meal times to reduce snacking between meals. What causes decay is not what you eat, but how often you eat.
  • Reduce your stress levels, which is understandably hard at this time -  Anxiety and stress can cause further inflammation in your mouth and gums. Trying to avoid and reduce stress will help promote good oral health. If you are in any great pain, do keep in touch with your Dentist as most are still operating for emergency appointments.

 
Exercise at home?
Exercise is not only good for our hearts and physique, it boosts our immunity and is an excellent stress buster. You don't have to go to a gym or even outdoors to exercise, all you need to do is clear a space on your living room floor and do an online work out.

Start slowly, we could be in lockdown for some time so don’t get injured early on. Be consistent and stick with it. Challenge yourself, and get others to join in. You can easily do group exercise via things like Zoom or WhatsApp. It’s incredible how energising exercise is, and at a time when a lot of us are starting to feel like couch potatoes it’s a welcome boost. If you do exercise outdoors remember the rules and stick to them.