Cold and flu season is certainly upon us. When you have a cold or the flu, taking care of your body is your top priority, and that includes your mouth. Here are some simple ways to care for your dental health when you’re not feeling well:
Practice Good 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. Never share your toothbrush anytime, but especially when you are sick.
Choose Sugar-Free Cough Drops
Read the label before you pick up a bag at the drug store. Avoid products that contain ingredients like fructose or corn syrup. Many cough drops contain sugar, and that is equivalent to sucking on hard candy. Sugar is a culprit when it comes to cavities. 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 better to wait. When you vomit, stomach acids are coating your teeth. If you brush too soon, you’re rubbing that acid all over the hard enamel of your teeth. Instead of brushing, swish with water, a diluted mouth rinse or a mixture of water and 1 tsp. baking soda to help wash the acid away.
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 also puts you at greater risk for cavities. The medications you might be taking for a cold or flu, such as antihistamines, decongestants or pain relievers can also dry out your mouth. Drink plenty of water and suck on sugarless cough drops, throat lozenges or candies to keep that saliva flowing.
Choose the Right Fluids
When it comes to your mouth and your body, one beverage is always best. The safest thing to drink is water! Sports drinks might be recommended to replenish electrolytes when you’re 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.