Cold and flu season is upon us, which means you could find yourself feeling under the weather over the next few months. That means it is more important than ever to take extra care of your oral health! Here are a few ways to keep your teeth and gums in good condition when you’re not feeling your best.
1. Choose sugar-free cough drops.
Cough drops can be helpful in soothing your throat when you’re under the weather. However, some cough drop brands can be particularly sugary—almost as if you’re just sucking on hard candy! This is particularly harmful to your dental enamel. When the bacteria in plaque feed on the sugars in your cough drop, they release acids that corrode your teeth and lead to decay. To prevent this damage to your teeth, check the labels on the packaging. Avoid purchasing any cough drops that are high in fructose or corn syrup.
2. Rinse with baking soda after vomiting.
If you’re suffering from a stomach bug, you may experience vomiting as an unfortunate side effect. Your first instinct may be to instantly brush your teeth afterwards. However, we urge you not to do so! When you vomit, stomach acids are released onto the surfaces of your teeth. Brushing immediately can actually help facilitate the acid’s corrosion of your dental enamel. Instead, try rinsing your mouth with a baking soda mixture first. To make this mixture, simply add 1 tsp. of baking soda to a small glass of water. Rinse and spit with this solution to both neutralize the acids and wash them away. Then, wait about 30 minutes to brush your teeth.
3. Stay hydrated.
Drinking water is important for restoring your health back to normal, as well as protecting your teeth and gums. Dry mouth is a common occurrence when you’re sick—particularly if you’re taking medications for the cold or flu such as decongestants, pain relievers, or antihistamines. Dry mouth can unfortunately add to your health predicaments by increasing your risk of cavities, halitosis, and even making it more difficult to speak and swallow. Therefore, be sure to keep drinking plenty of water while you recover.
4. Protect your teeth from certain fluids.
Some fluids can be more harmful to your teeth than others. Water is, of course, the best beverage to consume to maintain your health. However, some like to have sports drinks in order to replenish their electrolytes. Should you choose to do so, make sure to drink them in moderation. Sports drinks contain a lot of sugar and can therefore lead to tooth decay.
5. Consider replacing your toothbrush.
The flu virus has the ability to sustain on a moist surface for 72 hours, according to the CDC. Therefore, it is very important not to share your toothbrush—particularly when you’re under the weather. While the chances of reinfection are relatively low (unless your immune system is particularly compromised), it is not a bad idea to replace your toothbrush with a new one after you’ve been sick. Remember: the American Dental Association recommends that you replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, so it might be time for a new one anyway!
To maintain your oral health throughout the winter months, be sure to schedule your next dentist appointment! Call Advanced Family Dental & Orthodontics today to plan your visit.