The flu season can really put a damper on what is supposed to be a time of celebration. Enjoying delicious holiday meals is incredibly difficult when you can’t taste them properly or because you can’t keep them down. If you have the flu, your number-one priority needs to be resting and allowing your body to heal as quickly as possible.
However, you don’t want your oral health to suffer as well just because you have the flu. Here are five tips that you should consider from a dentist.
Brush Often and Well
The more plaque and bacteria inside your mouth, the more your immune system will be at risk. Keeping a healthy mouth has been shown to improve your immune system overall, so always take the time to brush your teeth for at least two minutes. Put a song or tv show on as you brush in order to pass the time. Make sure to floss afterwards to remove food debris and plaque from in between teeth as well.
When you’re sick, the worst thing you can do (other than not rest) is not drink enough water. The flu dehydrates you and your body needs fluids to fight off infection. Dry mouth is bad enough when you can’t breathe properly, but it’s even worse for your teeth and gums. A dry mouth makes it much easier for bacteria to move around and develop. Keep saliva production high by increasing your intake of water, soup and juices high in vitamin C.
Opt for Sugar-Free Cough Drops
Cough drops can help soothe your throat when you’ve been coughing all day, but they can also be detrimental to your oral health. If you do use cough drops, choose a bag that is labeled as “sugar-free.” Exposing your teeth to concentrated amounts of sugar over a long period of time is a sure way to get a cavity while you’re sick. Look for medications using natural sweeteners like xylitol instead to reduce your exposure.
Gargle a Saltwater Mixture
There’s going to be a lot more bacteria inside your mouth than normal when you’re sick, which means the typical amount of brushing you perform may not be enough to combat dental disease. To cut down on bacteria, dissolve one half of a teaspoon of salt in one tablespoon of water, then mix that into a 12-ounce glass of warm water. Gargle a small amount of water and spit until the glass is empty. This will work to reduce bacteria and plaque as well as cut down bad breath.
Use a Fresh Toothbrush Afterwards
After you’ve gotten better, you don’t want your oral care products to harbor flu bacteria. To protect yourself and those around you, replace your toothbrush, even if the brush was new when you got sick.
Don’t let oral care be forgotten this season. Confirm your oral health status by scheduling an appointment today!
About the Author
Dr. James A. Moreau Jr. earned his DDS degree from the LSU School of Dentistry. He understands and regularly promotes the importance of recognizing the link between oral and overall health. When you have a healthy mouth, you’re far more likely to have a healthy body overall. To learn more about his practice or get more tips on oral care while having the flu, you can contact him through his website.