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The colder months are upon us, and many people are catching the cold and flu. When you are feeling under the weather, your number one priority should be taking care of your body – and this includes your mouth.
“Taking care of your dental health all throughout the year is a must, especially when you are not feeling well,” says Dr. Sarah Kong, your Dallas dentist.
Below are some of the ways you can take care of your oral health when you’re sick:
1. Observe good hygiene
When you are down with the flu or have colds, you know how important it is to cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough. Don’t neglect your toothbrush hygiene, too!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the flu virus can survive on most surfaces for about 72 hours.
Do not share your toothbrush at any time – sick or not. It’s not really essential to replace your toothbrush once you are feeling well. The chances of reinfecting yourself is low, unless your immune system is extremely compromised. If in doubt, throw your toothbrush away, especially if you have been using it for at least three months.
2. Go for sugar-free cough drops
Before you purchase cough drops at the drug store, keep an eye on the label to avoid ingredients like corn syrup or fructose. A lot of cough drops contain sugar, to give you the feeling that you are sucking on candy. We all know that sugar is the biggest culprit of cavities. The longer the sugar-laden cough drop stays in your mouth, the longer the time the cavity-causing bacteria can feast on the sugar – producing acid-causing cavities in your teeth.
3. Just vomited? Gargle afterwards.
Vomiting is one unfortunate side effect when you are down with the stomach flu. Most people are tempted to brush their teeth right away, but the truth is, it’s much better to wait. Stomach acids come in contact with your mouth when you vomit, and if you brush right away, you will be rubbing that acid all over your mouth’s outer shell.
Instead of brushing, swish your mouth with water, a mixture of 1 tablespoon of baking soda and water, or a mouth rinse (diluted) to wash the acid away. You can brush 30 minutes later.
4. Keep yourself hydrated
Your body needs a lot of fluids for many health reasons, and one is to prevent dry mouth. This condition is not only uncomfortable, it actually puts you at greater risk for cavities. Cold and flu medicines like decongestants, antihistamines, and pain relievers, can give you dry mouth. Drink plenty of fluids and suck on throat candies, lozenges, or cough drops to keep the saliva flowing.
5. Always choose water
One beverage is always best for the body and your mouth: water. You may consume sports drinks to replenish lost electrolytes, but be sure to drink them in moderation – unless there is a sugar-free version.
How do you take care of your oral health when you’re sick? If you have questions, feel free to get in touch with your Dallas dentist at 214-396-7876.