Dental Health Tips for Cold and Flu Season

Yes, we are in the middle of winter, which brings with it snow and all of the fun outdoor sports–skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. But, let’s not forget the other season that accompanies all the fun–the cold and flu season. And, these days, it isn’t just a cold or the flu you should be aware of. Now, it’s COVID, RSV, and pneumonia. It’s hard to keep up with the sicknesses you are exposed to this winter.

Dental Health Tips for Cold and Flu Season

One thing remains certain. Keeping up with your oral hygiene is even more important to your overall health this time of year. Good oral hygiene goes hand-in-hand with the prevention and treatment of colds and flu. In this post, your Fuquay-Varina dentist and his team at Hamby Family Dental Center are sharing some tips for you on keeping your teeth healthy even when you are under the weather.

Tip #1: Keep Up with Brushing and Flossing While You Are Sick

When you aren’t feeling well, it’s easy to let your dental hygiene slide. But, this is exactly when you need to stay on top of your oral care. Taking medications, along with a reduction of saliva, creates an environment that is prime for tooth decay and gum issues. Be sure you continue to brush two times each day and floss each time.

Tip #2: Take Care of Your Toothbrush

Flu viruses can live on moist surfaces for up to 72 hours. Be sure you are storing your toothbrush separately from other family members’ brushes and allow it to air dry with the head pointed up. Don’t close it up in a travel case or medicine cabinet. Toothbrushes stored near other brushes can spread bacteria from brush to brush. Rinse your brush well after brushing and flush food particles down the sink. Soak your brush in antibacterial mouthwash to reduce germs. There are FDA-approved sanitizing devices that are available if you want to zap lingering germs. After you recover from the illness, chances of you getting infected again from your toothbrush are low. But, we do advise throwing the brush away and getting a new one.

Tip #3: Stay Hydrated

Drinking fluids promotes recovery from colds and flu as well as keeps your mouth healthy. One reason to drink plenty of liquids is to keep from getting a dry mouth. A dry mouth puts you at a greater risk for cavities. Many of the medications you might take for a cold or flu such as antihistamines, decongestants, or pain relievers can dry out your mouth. To combat these side effects, drink lots of water and suck on sugarless cough drops, throat lozenges, or candy to keep saliva flowing. Stay away from fluids that contain sugar. It leaves a residue on your teeth and can contribute to dehydration. Hydration can result in reduced saliva production. Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health by washing bacteria away, neutralizing acids, and helping with digestion. Not enough saliva is a great environment for bacteria to grow, which leads to cavities and gum disease.

Tip #4: Rinse After Vomiting

Taking care of your teeth is imperative when you are suffering from a stomach virus. Vomiting is hard on your teeth. Even though you may want to brush immediately after being nauseated, the best thing to do is to rinse your mouth-not brush your teeth. Rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash to neutralize the acid. To protect your tooth enamel, wait at least 30 minutes before you brush.

Tip #5: Use a Humidifier

A humidifier can put moisture in the air, reducing your congestion and making it easier for you to breathe. If you can’t breathe through your nose, you will breathe through your mouth during sleep and this contributes to a dry mouth, which increases the risk of cavities. Using a humidifier can make you more comfortable and keep your mouth wet.

Tip #6: Pick Sugar-Free Cough Drops and Liquid Medications

Many cough drops and syrups are loaded with sugar, which causes tooth decay and harms your gums. Pick medicine that is sweetened with sugar substitutes like xylitol or sucralose. If you only have cough drops with sugar content, be sure to brush or rinse after using them. If your medicine is acidic, wait at least 30 minutes before you brush to let the tooth enamel harden.

Schedule an Appointment with Hamby Family Dental Center to Maintain Proper Oral Health

The entire team at Hamby Family Dental Center is available to help you maintain your oral health during this cold and flu season. We are currently accepting new patients.  Please contact us today to schedule a dental cleaning and exam. Call us at  919-552-2431 or complete the form below to schedule an appointment for your oral health.

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