Taking care of your teeth during a drought

By now, you’ve probably seen hundreds of tips on how to use less water during the day. How to cook with less, how to shower with less and how to maintain a garden without watering it (it seems impossible, but we’ve seen some pretty creative stuff online).


According to the statistics, over 90% of the world’s population will suffer from some form of dental disease in their lifetime. The risk of contracting these diseases increases significantly when your access to clean water is interrupted so it is vitally important to maintain your dental hygiene in these hard times.


Thankfully, we’ve got some awesome tips to help your teeth survive the drought!


Limit the amount of water you use while brushing

This one seems like a no-brainer, of course you’d try to use less water while brushing. But how? We recommend filling a cup with water and using that for your entire regime. This way, you can also keep better track of your overall consumption.


Use Less Toothpaste

Most people use triple the amount of toothpaste that is necessary when brushing teeth – and the more toothpaste you use, the more water you need to rinse it out. Dr. J. J. Serfontein recommends using no more than a pea-size amount of toothpaste when brushing. It seems like very little, but it is sufficient for a thorough cleaning.


Don’t brush your teeth in the shower

We’ve seen a few articles encouraging people to brush their teeth in the shower rather than at the sink. While it seems like a good idea, in theory,  you would typically use more water while brushing your teeth in the shower than if you used a cup at the sink. You’d be able to monitor your usage better and could have more control over how much water is being used.


Chew Sugar-free gum

The keyword here is “sugar-free”. Sugar is terrible for teeth and causes incredible damage to the tooth structure over time but if you are not able to brush after each meal or you feel like you need a quick refresher, sugar-free gum is a great option.


Use Mouthwash

A mouth rinse, in addition to daily brushing and flossing, can increase the overall cleanliness of your mouth. Antimicrobial mouth rinses reduce bacteria and plaque activity, which cause gingivitis and gum disease. Fluoride mouth rinses also help reduce and prevent tooth decay.


It is also good to chat with your dentist about any products they may recommend and to discuss the products you are using. Fluoride isn’t recommended for everyone so give Dr. J. J. Serfontein a call if you’re thinking about using it.


Book a professional cleaning

There is no better feeling than teeth after a cleaning – but when water is scarce, professional cleanings do more than just give you that feeling. Drought does increase the risk of oral diseases, so it’s good to have your dentist take a look at your overall oral health more often during these trying times and a cleaning is the perfect opportunity. Dr. J. J. Serfontein’s staff are trained to identify any potential problems and have saved many teeth by catching, diagnosing and treating issues early on.  

Call our Cape Town practice to book an examination and cleaning, and we’ll give you peace of mind and that post-cleaning feeling!


Saving water is extremely important in Cape Town. There are already people living in this beautiful city who have lost access to water for days at a time so while we are saving water, it is also important to set up contingency plans in case your access gets interrupted. Try to store some clean water for consumption and keep an emergency supply of hand sanitiser, mouthwash and disinfectant wipes.


You can get a pretty accurate estimate of your consumption by using this handy calculator: http://coct.co/thinkwater/calculator.html – it will also help you identify problem areas where you could cut down on your usage.


Tips to help you stay healthy during the water shortage


  • Boil water or use water purification tablets for the rain water you catch. But preferably use this for flushing the toilet, not for drinking.
  • Use water purifiers or sterilisers when you wash raw veggies – with the listeriosis outbreak as well as the possibility of a Hepatitis A outbreak we can’t afford not to wash our fresh produce!
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser or wet wipes to keep hands clean (and hand cream because that stuff gets pretty harsh after a while!).
  • Bicarb and vinegar are excellent for cleaning especially as it doesn’t destroy water for grey use.
  • Dodgy tummy prep: Rehydrate, probiotics and medicine for stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Use vinegar in the toilet and drains to help with any odors and bacteria.
  • Clean with microfiber cloths or rags as sponges become unsanitary. It’s far easier to clean cloths and hanging them up immediately can delay them smelling. Alternatively, wipe down surfaces using wet wipes.
  • Do not drink non-potable water (grey water).

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