Every season, doctors strongly advise their patients to get their flu shots. Not only is having the flu detrimental to your work and your ability to enjoy the holidays, but it can be deadly if not caught and properly treated. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, an estimated 80,000 Americans died of the flu and its complications in 2017, making it the deadliest flu season on record.
But we’re not just talking about the flu because of the season. In fact, good oral hygiene has the potential to reduce your risk of contracting the flu in many different ways.
For far too long, oral health has been disjointed from overall health, but the two have always been connected. While you should always get the vaccine just to stay protected, practicing good oral hygiene works to boost your immune system. The healthier the mouth is, the more you’re doing your body a favor during flu season. Of course, if you do end up developing the flu, you’ll still need to know the right steps to take after you’ve fully recovered.
DO I HAVE THE FLU?
The next steps you take will vary depending on if you already have flu-like symptoms or not. Flu-like symptoms typically include:
- Sore throat or cough
- Body aches
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Chronic diarrhea and vomiting
If you do not carry these symptoms, there’s still time to get a flu vaccination so your body can fight back. If you do have these symptoms and a doctor has confirmed that you’ve contracted the flu, it is crucial that you avoid all elective dental treatments, stay hydrated and rest as much as possible. This will allow your body to fight the infection on its own. You can also take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to relieve body aches.
HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?
HOW DO I PREVENT THE FLU?
- After you receive vaccination, make it a habit to keep your hands away from your face.
- Use a tissue instead if you need to touch any areas around your mouth, nose or eyes.
- Using hand sanitizer throughout the day will work to kill germs that spread the flu.
- If you’re frequently using communal areas, wash your hands after touching these services.
- If you hear someone coughing or sneezing near you, keep at least three feet away from them to avoid exposure to any germs.
In terms of oral hygiene, it’s crucial that you brush at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and floss daily. This reduces your risk of gum disease and tooth decay, which easily allow bacteria to develop and travel to other areas of the body. You’ll also want to reduce your consumption of sugar and eat a healthy and balanced diet. Not only will this boost your immune system, but it will also create a less viable environment for oral bacteria to develop.
WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER I HAVE THE FLU?
Once your flu symptoms have disappeared, you’ll still need to confirm you aren’t creating an environment that allows for reinfection. That means once you’ve gotten better, it’s time to replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head. The flu travels through water droplets, meaning it can easily remain on oral care products like toothbrushes.
While you can’t get the same flu virus twice, it can easily mutate into another strain that your body isn’t immune too. It’s also a good way to prevent family members from getting sick, assuming they keep their toothbrush in the same bathroom.
It’s amazing how simple changes to your habits and environment can make a difference this flu season. Once you’ve fully healed, you’re more than welcome to visit Canatella Dental for an elective treatment. Just make sure to schedule your next cleaning and exam to maintain optimal oral health!