The cold and flu season is upon us. Hopefully, you won’t catch either one. But if you do, you’ll be focused mostly on feeling better and getting back to normal as quickly as possible. Taking care of your teeth may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s important to try to maintain an oral hygiene regimen even if you aren’t feeling well. The truth is, when you are sick, it becomes even more important to protect your teeth. The San Bruno dental team has compiled a list of tips to help you protect your teeth when you are not feeling well.
Keep Up Your Oral Care Routine
It’s common courtesy to cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. This is a way to prevent the spread of germs and viruses. You probably don’t share your toothbrush with someone else, but please don’t do it when you are sick. The flu virus can live on moist surfaces as long as 72 hours. Many dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush after you’ve been sick. T’s not necessary since it’s unlikely you will re-infect yourself with the flu or a cold. Your Simply Dentistry team recommends a new toothbrush every three to six months. If it’s close to time to replace it, you may want to do so. It’s certainly better safe than sorry.
Dangers of Cough Drops
Cough drops can help relieve symptoms like a sore throat, but don’t grab just any brand. Make sure to read the ingredients label first. Most cough drops contain large amounts of sugar. As you know, sugar contributes to the development of cavities. Sucking on sugary cough drops is just as dangerous for your teeth as if you were eating candy. When you hold the cough drop in your mouth, it’s feeding bacteria in your mouth. Sugar is just what they need to thrive. This can cause damage to your teeth. When choosing cough drops, choose sugar-free varieties to help prevent cavities.
Rinse Your Mouth Out if You Vomit
One of the unpleasant symptoms of the flu or a stomach virus is throwing up. No one likes to discuss that, of course. But it can be damaging to your teeth. When you vomit, stomach acid comes in direct contact with your teeth. Brushing them immediately after can coat them. Brushing too soon can spread it around even more. Instead, swish water around your mouth and spit it out. You can make a mouth rinse by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water. Use it to rinse your mouth right after you throw up, then wait 30 minutes before brushing.
How to Hydrate During Cold and Flu Season
Your doctor is probably going to recommend staying hydrated when you are ill. It’s not only best for your body to drink plenty of fluids, but it’s good for your mouth. Lack of adequate hydration can cause dry mouth. Having a dry mouth can increase the chances of developing cavities. Many of the pharmaceutical products taken to relieve cold and flu symptoms can dry out your mouth too. Using sugar-free cough drops can help your mouth generate an adequate amount of saliva to help prevent dry mouth.
When hydrating, choose your liquids wisely. Water is always the safest choice. Your doctor may suggest a sports drink to help with electrolyte balance. Just don’t overdo them. Choose sugar-free varieties when you can and drink them in moderation. The sugar content can be damaging to your teeth.
Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. Dr. Dustin Lee is always here to answer any of your questions about oral care. If you’ve been sick with the flu or a cold, it might be time to schedule an exam to make sure your teeth and mouth are healthy.