05 Aug Dental Tips For Cold N Flu Season
It’s the time of year when everyone around you starts coughing and sniffling.
When you’re feeling unwell, taking care of your body is a top priority, and that includes your mouth too. It’s essential to take care of your dental health all year round but especially when you’re under the weather. And in this Winter weather, we’re at the peak of flu season! Whether it’s the flu you’re struggling with, a stomach bug or even just a common cold, the effect on your oral health is more significant than you might think so it’s good to be aware of how illnesses can affect us in different ways. Especially those at higher risk of complications – such as our elderly loved ones.
Are you experiencing vomiting?
Vomiting encourages the decay of our tooth enamel. Depending on the situation you’re in, you might find yourself unable to keep your food down. Vomiting is never enjoyable, but sometimes it’s essential for your body to expel harmful bacteria or substances. The fluids in our stomach are highly acidic and these gastric juices are pushed into the mouth when we vomit which damages the defensive layer of our teeth – the enamel. The ongoing softening of enamel makes us more prone to tooth decay and erosion.
Although it’s incredibly tempting, try (as best you can) to avoid brushing your teeth straight away. If you have vomited, there is already an acid coating on your teeth, so brushing has the potential to aggravate damage further – rubbing the acid into your teeth instead of brushing it away. Try rinsing out your mouth with water or a baking soda mouth rinse. One teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water is a cheap and effective mouthwash to neutralise and help wash away the acids before you brush.
When we’re sick, we already know to cover our mouths and nose if we’re coughing and sneezing. But it’s essential to also keep up with dental hygiene of your toothbrush as well! Our toothbrushes can accumulate bacteria, saliva and blood. The flu virus can live on moist surfaces for over two days, so it’s safest not to be sharing it with anyone. Try to keep your toothbrush separate from others in your household to prevent the spread of illness. However, it’s not always necessary to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick. Our immune system is robust and once we’re recovered, the chances of re-infecting yourself are very low, but when in doubt – chuck it out!
When you’re sick – you need plenty of fluids for a variety of reasons. And keeping well-hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to ensure you maintain good oral care when you are sick. Your body is more likely to lose fluids when fighting off an infection so staying hydrated is vital. Greater fluid loss leads to a higher risk of dehydration and dry mouth. Dry mouth is also a common problem when you can’t breathe through your nose easily. This lack of saliva in your mouth increases your risk of dental decay and gingivitis. Plus certain medications such as antihistamines and some decongestants can also cause dry mouth. So it’s super important to keep your fluid consumption up to encourage saliva. And of course, when we talk about fluids – we mean water! Water is our body’s best friend when we’re sick and although sports drinks are recommended to replenish our electrolytes, try to consume them in moderation as their sugar content is very high. This goes for throat lozenges as well, try to avoid throat those with high sugar content where possible.
Gargle with saltwater.
This trick’s a goodie and can also aid in the healing of mouth ulcers. Dissolve a tablespoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Gargle, swish and spit the water until you’ve polished off the glass. This helps cut down on harmful bacteria in your mouth and throat, reducing the effects of bad breath and plaque.
Although taking care of your teeth when you’re feeling ill might be the farthest thing from your mind, it’s just as important as any other self-care practice you might have when you’re sick. With these simple steps in mind, you can help protect your teeth and gums over the flu season and keep your entire mouth happy and healthy while you recover.
If you want some more tips on oral care when you are sick or have questions about keeping up your dental health while coping with an illness, give us a call or make an appointment online here to visit us.