When you start to feel a tickle in your throat or queasiness in your stomach, the last thing on your mind is your oral health. It’s easy to forego basic dental hygiene and fall into habits that will hurt your teeth in the long run when you get sick. When cold and flu season arrives, remember that taking care of your teeth and gums is important, no matter how healthy the rest of your body feels. Here, Flintlock Dental will take a look at some ways you can keep up with good dental hygiene even when faced with an illness during cold and flu season (or any other time of year).
Use Sugar-Free Cough Drops
If you need to use cough drops to fix your symptoms, take the time to find ones that are sugar free. While cough drops are great for reducing an irritating cough and soothing an itchy throat, they can be harmful to your teeth. Since you hold a cough drop in your mouth for a long period of time as it dissolves, all of the ingredients in that cough drop will adhere to your teeth and linger on your gums. If you leave sugar on your teeth and gums, it will cause problems by feeding the cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth. Using a sugar-free cough drop while you’re sick is a good way to pay attention to your oral health while also tending to your bodily health.
Swish and Spit after Getting Sick
Some of the worst illnesses affect the stomach. Throwing up is never fun and neither is the taste it can leave in your mouth long after the episode. On top of that, the strong stomach acid that comes up will wreak havoc on your teeth. Any time you throw up, take the time to rinse your mouth and spit that stuff out. You can use a simple warm water rinse or some mouthwash, but no matter what you choose, it’s important that you take the time to do this step. Swishing the rinse around in your mouth for about a minute can help ensure that you get as much stomach acid off of your teeth and gums as possible.
If you’re hit with a cold or any other type of illness, it’s important for your overall health to stay hydrated. In order to consume enough liquids, you could simply keep a plain glass of water filled nearby or choose something with added electrolytes to keep your energy up. On top of improving your overall health, keeping hydrated during cold and flu season is important for your oral health as well. Your mouth can get dry fast from coughing and breathing through it, and a dry mouth is not good for your teeth, because your saliva helps protect them. Making sure you keep hydrated while you’re sick can ward off further issues with your oral health later.
Choosing the Right Fluids
Keeping yourself hydrated is great, but when it comes to dental health, it’s also important to know what kinds of fluids to choose. As with cough drops, it’s also crucial to stay hydrated with drinks that don’t contain too much sugar. Water is the best drink when it comes to your dental health, but you don’t have to be completely restricted to it. A hot cup of tea can feel great on your sore throat - just don’t add sugar. Keeping your sugar content low in the drinks you choose is a good step in keeping your oral health on the right track during your illness and in everyday life.
You should also be wary of consuming too much citrus throughout the day. It's common to up your intake of orange juice and fruit in an attempt to get enough essential vitamins during an illness, but these acidic and sugary foods aren't good for your teeth. Don't worry, you don't have to forego them completely! Just make sure that you eat and drink these acidic substances quickly and rinse your mouth out with water afterwards to remove most of the sugar and acid that's left behind. Don't sip on your juice slowly throughout the day. Learn more about foods and drinks that are harmful for your dental health here.
Taking care of yourself during an illness is hard, but taking the time and effort to continue with good dental hygiene practices during cold and flu season can save you from problems after the fact. Continue to brush and floss daily, choose sugar-free drinks and medicines when possible, and keep yourself hydrated with the right fluids to ensure that your teeth remain healthy, even when the rest of you feels sick.