It is that time of year when the unwelcome cold and flu season hits, and it usually rears its head at the most inopportune times. While you’re at home coughing, hacking, and blowing your nose for the 100th time, you hope that your symptoms don’t cause you to miss out on your upcoming annual Mardi Gras festivities…again. As you work to improve your situation with helpful products from the store, think about what you can do to ensure your oral health also stays in check. To help, a dentist shares 4 ways you can keep your teeth and gums from becoming a victim of your dreading cold or flu.
PRACTICE GOOD ORAL HYGIENE EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT
It’s easy to disregard brushing your teeth, flossing, and rinsing while you’re sick. After all, who really wants to get out of bed to do it when you can just keep sleeping? The reason you’ll want to take these few minutes is so that you can effectively remove any harmful bacteria that is gathering inside your mouth. The cold and/or flu cause germs to spread like wildfire, so instead of allowing these bacteria to burrow into the crevices of your teeth and develop into tooth decay or gum disease, opt to practice good oral hygiene.
An important note you’ll want to remember is before flossing, make sure you wash your hands. Any germs you’ve picked up by coughing or wiping a runny nose can be easily transferred to your mouth.
HYDRATE BY DRINKING WATER
Water is the best drink you can have while sick. It doesn’t matter what type of illness you have when your doctor says “hydrate,” they mean drink plenty of water. Not only does it increase your saliva production, which will flush out bacteria and food particles from your oral cavity, but it also flushes out your system and can prevent additional problems from developing (i.e. dehydration). If possible, avoid drinking any soda, coffee, or tea with sugar and/or lemon added, as these have a lot of sugar content that can cause tooth decay and cavities.
BE SELECTIVE WITH YOUR MEDICINES
Too often, cough syrups, lozenges, and antihistamines can cause problems for your teeth and gums. While they may help with the cold or flu, many of these products contain sugar that is horrible for your teeth and overall oral health. When buying items at the store to help you feel better, make sure to read the labels. Opt for medicines that have honey or a natural sweetener instead of sugar. This will prevent tooth decay and cavities from developing and resulting in the need for a possible filling or dental crown depending on the severity.
BUY A NEW TOOTHBRUSH
When you’re sick, germs can gather on your toothbrush. In fact, the flu virus can stay on a moist surface for 72 hours according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To prevent reinfection after you’re feeling better, go ahead and throw away your old toothbrush or brush head if you’re using an electric toothbrush, and buy a new one.
While it’s no fun battling cold and flu symptoms, do your best to protect your smile while you rest at home. Your teeth and gums will thank you in the end.
About the Author
Dr. Todd Canatella cares about your smile and your overall well-being, so when something like cold and flu season arises, he and his team can work together to provide you with helpful tips to take care of your teeth and gums. As a trusted dental professional, Dr. Canatella completed his undergraduate studies at Louisiana State University (LSU) before enrolling in the university’s School of Dentistry and achieving his dental degree. After graduation, he completed a year-long study course in implant placement at the Medical College of Georgia. To learn how we can help you, visit our website.