When cold and flu season strikes, you might become so concerned with caring for your overall health that you do not think much about your dental health. But did you know that colds and flus — and what you do to fight them — can have an effect on your teeth? Let’s discuss a few flu season tips that will help you stay healthy from teeth to toe this fall and winter.
Don’t Neglect Your Daily Brushing
When you aren’t feeling well, it is easy to let the little things slip by you. Even something as simple as brushing your teeth might seem like a monumental task. However, it is vitally important that you continue to brush thoroughly twice a day. Doing so will prevent bacterial buildup in your mouth that could lead to tooth decay and bad breath.
Some types of cold and flu remedies, such as decongestants, can contribute to dry mouth. Without enough saliva to rinse away bacteria and food particles, you are at an increased risk of dental problems. Try to sip on plenty of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated will also help your body fight off the infection that’s causing your illness.
Get a New Toothbrush
It is highly unlikely that your toothbrush will re-infect you with the same illness after you recover. However, it might pose a threat to your family members if they accidentally use it, or if it touches one of their toothbrushes. As soon as you feel better, it’s a god idea to toss out your old brush and replace it with a new one.
Gargle with Saltwater
Place about a tablespoon of salt into a glass of warm water. After the salt dissolves, gargle and spit until you use up all the water. Saltwater is an excellent way to fight inflammation in the throat and battle harmful bacteria.
Choose Sugar-Free Remedies
Cough syrups, cough drops, throat lozenges, orange juice, and other common cold and flu remedies are full of sugar. All of that sugar can attack the teeth and lead to plaque buildup. It’s best to choose sugar-free remedies. If you do opt for ones with sugar, be sure to rinse your mouth with water after you take them, and remember to brush your teeth thoroughly at the beginning and end of each day (if not more often).
Visit the Dentist
After you feel better, it would be wise to visit your dentist for a routine exam if you have not had one lately. Your dentist will check to make sure your teeth fared well through your illness and can give you personalized guidance for protecting your oral health in the future.
Don’t let flu season wreck your smile! Use the above tips to keep your teeth in top shape even when you are feeling under the weather.
About the Author
Dr. James A. Moreau, the leader of our team at MoreSMILES, graduated from L.S.U. School of Dentistry nearly 40 years ago. He enjoys educating his patients and helping them safeguard their long-term oral health. If dental problems do develop, he has the training and experience necessary to address them. To learn more about Dr. Moreau and how he can help you protect your teeth, contact our office at 985-809-7645.