Being sick is no fun, and at this time of year, it seems like viruses and infections are everywhere. If you’re unlucky enough to catch a cold or the flu, it can be tempting to just curl up in bed and not do anything until it passes. But when you’re sick, it’s actually more important than ever to take care of yourself, and that includes your oral health.
Here are 5 tips for taking the best possible care of your teeth during cold and flu season.
1. Use Sugar Free Cough Drops and Medicine
Many liquid cold medicines and cough drops contain sugar. Cough drops dissolve slowly, meaning that your teeth will be exposed to the sugar in them for a long time. Look for sugar free varieties to protect your teeth, and if you can’t find them, make sure to brush immediately after using cough drops or liquid medicine.
2. Brush—Even if You Don’t Feel Like It
It’s hard to drag yourself out of bed when you’re sick. Everyday tasks like brushing and flossing can easily be pushed aside because you just don’t feel like doing them. But neglecting your oral hygiene when you’re under the weather is never a good idea—the last thing you need is to create more problems for yourself later. Plus, sometimes having a clean mouth can even make you feel a little better.
3. Rinse Your Mouth After Vomiting
It’s not pleasant to talk about, but if you have a virus that causes vomiting, it can take a toll on your teeth. The acid from your stomach wears away your enamel over time, so it’s important to make sure you rinse your mouth out with water or mouthwash after vomiting. But don’t brush right away—until the acid is neutralized, brushing can damage your enamel too. Rinse right away, then brush about 20-30 minutes later.
4. Drink Lots of Water
Staying hydrated is never a bad idea. It’s good for your overall health and can help you get over your cold or flu faster. But it’s also important for your oral health. A dry mouth is a perfect environment for bacteria, making you more susceptible to cavities and gum disease. Make sure to drink lots of water and keep those sugar free lozenges handy to increase saliva production.
5. Replace Your Toothbrush Once You’re Better
You should already be replacing your toothbrush every three months, but it’s especially important after you get over your illness. The flu virus can live on a moist surface for 72 hours, and while the chances of reinfecting yourself are low, in this case it’s better to be safe than sorry.
One Last Thing
If you’re sick and have an upcoming appointment with us, it’s best to reschedule so that our staff isn’t exposed to any unnecessary germs. Plus, a dental visit can be pretty uncomfortable when you’re not feeling well. We would be happy to change your appointment to a later date if you call our office at (540) 434-5500.