When you have a cold or the flu, taking care of your body is your top priority – and that includes your mouth.
“It’s important to take care of your dental health all year round, but especially when you’re sick.” – Dr. Gene Romo
Here are some simple ways to care for your dental health when you’re not feeling well:
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
When you’re sick, you know to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. Don’t forget to keep up your dental and toothbrush hygiene as well.
According to the CDC, the flu virus can live on moist surfaces for 72 hours. The number one rule is not to share your toothbrush anytime, but especially when you are sick.
You also might consider replacing your toothbrush after you’ve been sick, especially if your immune system is compromised, or it’s nearing the time to replace your toothbrush.
Choose Sugar-Free Cough Drops
Read the label before you pick up a bag at the drug store with an eye to avoid ingredients like fructose or corn syrup. The longer you keep a sugary cough drop in your mouth, the more time cavity-causing bacteria has to feast on that sugar, which produces the acid that can leave holes in your teeth.
Swish and Spit After Vomiting
One unfortunate side effect of a stomach flu, among other illnesses, is vomiting. You might be tempted to brush your teeth right away, but it’s actually better to wait. When you vomit, stomach acids are coming in contact with your teeth. Instead, swish with water, a diluted mouth rinse or a mixture of water and baking soda to help wash acid away. It is safe to brush about 30 minutes later.
Stay Hydrated to Avoid Dry Mouth
When you’re sick, you need plenty of fluids for many reasons. One is to prevent dry mouth. Not only is it uncomfortable, dry mouth can also put you at greater risk for cavities. The medications you might be taking for cold and flu – such as antihistamines, decongestants or pain relievers – can also dry out your mouth, so drink plenty of water and suck on sugarless cough drops, throat lozenges or candies to keep that saliva flowing.
Choosing the Right Fluids
When it comes to your mouth and your body, one beverage is always best. Water. Sports drinks might be recommended to replenish electrolytes when you are sick, but drink them in moderation and don’t make them a habit after you’ve recovered because unless they are a sugar free version, they contain a lot of sugar.
You might also want something to warm you up. Try not to add sugar or lemon to your hot drinks if you can avoid it. Sugar can help to fuel cavity causing bacteria, and lemon is acidic. It’s something to keep in mind once you’re feeling 100% again, as well.Leave a reply →