We’re headed into the peak of cold and flu season, which typically comes with stuffy noses, sore throats, fevers, and loads of medicine to help ease symptoms. But did you know that any sickness from the common cold to the flu can also put oral health at risk, too? Your dentist in Chapel Hill has some steps you can take whenever you are feeling under the weather to help you feel better and protect your teeth.
Brushing your teeth regularly is important to do every day, especially if you’re sick. Regular brushing can help keep teeth clean and wash away bacteria in the mouth. Even if you’re so sick that you feel that you can’t get out of bed, try your best to continue brushing your teeth twice a day.
You’ll often hear your doctor and dentist in Chapel Hill tell you to make sure you drink plenty of fluids during any illness. Following this advice is beneficial for many reasons. Staying hydrated helps replenish fluids that are lost during the illness such as through vomiting, sweating, and simply not feeling well enough to eat or drink normally. Another reason to drink fluids, preferably water, is to combat dry mouth. Dry mouth is common when a nose is too stuffy to breathe out of and someone resorts to mouth breathing. Additionally, some medications can also cause dry mouth. Dry mouth isn’t only uncomfortable but it can also increase the risk of bacteria buildup and decay.
A simple and effective way to help you in multiple ways when you’re sick is to gargle with warm salt water. Symptoms such as a sore throat or painful swallowing can be alleviated with a few quick swishes of salt water. Also, salt water can help remove germs in the mouth.
Many medications from cough syrup to throat lozenges contain sugar, and as everyone knows, your dentist in Chapel Hill really doesn’t like sugar. Sugar feeds mouth bacteria and allows them to flourish in the mouth, increasing the likelihood of cavities and other tooth troubles. Cough syrup and lozenges are particularly concerning because they can essentially coat teeth with sugar. Try to find medications that don’t have sugar. When in doubt, rinse your mouth out with water after taking medicine or sucking on a lozenge.
The general rule of thumb is to toss any toothbrush that was used during an illness. While some research speculates that it may not be necessary, we believe that it’s better safe than sorry. You should also make sure to replace toothbrushes that are more than 3 or 4 months old.
As we enter what’s typically the height of cold and flu season, take proactive steps to protect you and your family from germs, viruses, and bacteria by washing your hands regularly, sneezing or coughing into your elbow, and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces. If your family does get sick, make sure to protect your oral health while you’re working on feeling better.