Most of your focus is on feeling better when you have a cold or the flu. It’s just as important to care for your mouth and teeth when you are sick too. Of course, it’s necessary to practice good oral hygiene all year round, but it becomes even more important when you are sick. Your Conway, NH dentist offers a few simple things you can do to care for your mouth and teeth when you don’t feel well.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene Habits
It’s common courtesy to cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. That helps prevent the spread of germs. The flu virus can live on a moist surface for up to 72 hours. Of course, you shouldn’t ever share a toothbrush, but especially when you are sick. You don’t necessarily need to replace a toothbrush after you’ve had a cold or the flu. It’s not likely to re-infect yourself unless your immune system is compromised or substantially weak. However, if you are not sure, toss it and buy a new one. It is better safe than sorry, especially if you haven’t replaced it in three or four months and it’s time to replace it anyway.
Use Sugar-Free Cough Drops
Before grabbing a bag of cough drops, read the ingredient label. Most cough drops contain sugar and they can contribute to developing cavities just like eating candy can. The longer you keep a cough drop in your mouth, the more time the bacteria that causes cavities has to live off the sugar. This can produce more of the acid that causes damage to your teeth.
Swishing After Vomiting
Unfortunately, when you have the flu, you are likely to vomit. Don’t brush your teeth immediately after, even though you may be tempted to. It’s best to wait. Stomach acid comes into contact with your teeth and coats them after you vomit. Brushing too soon after throwing up can spread stomach acid all over the outside of your teeth. Instead, swish with water. Make a mouth rinse by mixing 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water to wash the acid away. Rinse your mouth out and then wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
You need more fluids when you are sick for a lot of reasons. One benefit of staying hydrated is preventing dry mouth. Dry mouth can be uncomfortable, but it can also increase the risk of cavities. Many of the common medications taken to relieve flu and cold symptoms can dry out your mouth. Continue to drink plenty of water or other sugar-free liquids for hydration. It will keep your mouth from drying out. Using sugarless cough drops or throat lozenges can also help keep saliva abundant.
Choosing the Right Fluids
When it comes to the body and the mouth, water is always the best beverage. It’s the safest drink, period. Sometimes, sports drinks are recommended to make sure electrolytes are replenished especially when you are sick. Drink these in moderation and don’t consume them regularly after you’ve recovered. They can contain a large amount of sugar. Choose a sugar-free version if you want to continue drinking them for hydration purposes.
Contact Eastern Slope Dental
Have questions for your Conway dental team? Please don’t hesitate to call us. We can schedule a regular exam after you have recovered from your cold or flu to ensure your teeth are still in good condition. Dr. Allan Mulandi is happy to answer any questions you may have about caring for your teeth before, during or after an illness.