We are at the peak of cold and flu season and if you are unfortunate enough to get either of these, you are probably mostly focused on just feeling better. It’s important to try to maintain good oral hygiene even when you aren’t feeling your best. When you are sick, it becomes even more important. Your San Pablo dentists have compiled a short list of oral care tips to help protect your teeth when you are feeling under the weather.
Maintain Good Oral Care Hygiene Routines
Always cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. This is a common courtesy to help prevent spreading germs and viruses to others. The flu virus is capable of living on some surfaces for up to 72 hours. You should never share your toothbrush, but this is especially true if you’ve been sick. Some dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush after you’ve been sick with the flu or a cold. That’s not necessary. You are not likely to re-infect yourself with the virus unless you have a highly compromised or weakened immune system. Our San Pablo dental team recommends replacing your toothbrush every three to six months. If it’s been three months and it’s time to replace it, it’s a good time to do it. It is certainly better safe than sorry.
Choosing Cough Drops
When you have a sore throat or the sniffles, don’t be quick to grab just any bag of cough drops. Carefully read the ingredient label first. Most cough drops are made with sugar which is a major contributor to developing cavities. Cough drops with sugar can be just as dangerous for your teeth as eating candy. Holding a cough drop in your mouth for a long time allows cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth to thrive off the sugar. It’s like you are feeding them just what they need. The additional acid can cause damage to the teeth. Choose sugar-free cough drops instead.
Swishing Your Mouth With Water
No one likes to think about it, but vomiting is often a side effect of having the flu or a virus. If you do throw up, don’t brush your teeth immediately. It’s best to wait for a little bit. When you vomit, stomach acid comes into contact with the teeth and coats them. Brushing too soon will just help the acid better coat the teeth. Try swishing with water instead. A good mouth rinse is made by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water. Rinse your mouth and spit it out. Then, wait 30 minutes before brushing.
There are a lot of reasons you’ll need to drink more fluids when you are sick. From a dental standpoint, staying hydrated can help prevent dry mouth. Dry mouth is not only an uncomfortable feeling, but it can also increase the risk of developing cavities. Many of the pharmaceutical products that help relieve symptoms also dry out your mouth. Drinking plenty of sugar-free liquids helps keep you hydrated and protect your mouth from drying out. Sugar-free throat lozenges can also help you maintain a healthy amount of saliva.
What types of liquids are best? Water is always the best choice. It’s safer for your body and your teeth. Secondly, natural fruit juices are suitable, but you don’t want to overdo them. Physicians often recommend sports drinks to help balance out electrolytes. Stick with sugar-free sports drinks if you can. At least drink them in moderation and don’t continue drinking them once you have recovered.
Contact Your San Pablo Dental Care Team
Drs. Edwin Kim and Jacqueline Lee are available to answer your questions about oral care. Contact us with your questions and concerns. Or call today to schedule your next appointment. We are here to help you!