Seasonal changes bring the nasty cold and flu.
Did you know that they not only affect your overall health but also your oral health?
When the changing flu season is upon us, you should prepare yourself to keep your mouth healthy.
Otherwise, the consequences of the common cold follow through disturbing your dental health.
Hence, while you are sick with the occasional cold and flu, you can take measures to prevent further harm to your oral health.
This article discusses the oral care tips that will limit your dental concerns when you are sick.
Keep reading to know how you can incorporate them.
Good Oral Hygiene Matters
One thing that Coronavirus has taught us is that hygiene matters.
We used to take out hygiene quite lightly even if there are several microbes around us all the time.
These microbes are also responsible for cold and flu such as the influenza virus.
Hygiene is not only important for your own well-being but also for the people around you.
Hence, when you are unwell you should cover your mouth with a mask.
If you cough or sneeze do it in your elbow or cover your face while doing so.
Do not leave dirty tissues lying around rather dispose of them properly and wash your hands regularly.
Furthermore, make an effort to maintain your oral hygiene even when you are sick.
While you are unwell, do not share your toothbrush with anyone in the family.
You will be surprised to know that the flu virus you are carrying can stay alive on moist surfaces for up to 72 hours.
Hence, if your child or any other family member uses the same toothbrush, they are likely to get infected too.
Moreover, right after you get well, you should disinfect your toothbrush.
In fact, also do that while you are ill between day and night brushing teeth sessions.
Hot water may rinse off the microbes and so can disinfecting in a mouthwash.
Though, you do not need to replace your toothbrush as long as you disinfect it properly.
You can only reinfect yourself if your immune system is very weak.
If that is the case, it is best to replace your toothbrush.
You should be replacing your brush every 3 to 4 months anyways.
However, as long as you disinfect it and prevent others from using it, you are good to go.
Furthermore, you should protect your mouth from getting dry
Let’s read more on that below!
Prevent Your Mouth From Drying During Cold and Flu
Your mouth can dry out because of a dry cough.
Furthermore, you will be taking plenty of medicines to recover from your condition.
These include decongestants, pain killers and antihistamines.
While they may cure your cold and flu, they can put you at risk of developing a dry mouth.
They do this by reducing the salivary flow from the salivary glands inside your mouth.
Hence, your mouth feels parched and it becomes difficult to chew and swallow food.
However, that is not the only con of a dry mouth.
Saliva helps to wash away food particles and neutralizes acids.
Hence, the bacteria inside your mouth cannot manage to feed on the food debris and produce acids.
Though, when there is less saliva, then the food particles remain stuck inside your teeth.
The bacteria metabolize them and produce acids.
Moreover, the bacteria form a biofilm known as plaque on teeth.
As plaque accumulates, it hardens into tartar which can worsen to lead to gingivitis.
Plus, as the bacteria and food release acids, that erodes the enamel and weakens it.
As a result, the tooth enamel is more susceptible to attack from bacteria resulting in tooth decay and cavities.
You can prevent your mouth from drying out in these ways:
- Keep drinking water
- Sucking on sugar-free lozenges or cough drops
- Chewing a sugar-free gum
Water helps to keep the salivary flow going inside your mouth.
Moreover, the action of sucking on cough drops or chewing gum helps to stimulate the salivary glands to release saliva.
Though these are short-term solutions, they will prevent the decay from worsening.
After you get well and quit taking medicines then your salivary flow may return to normal levels.
It is important to take sugarless cough drops, gums or throat lozenges. Find out why below!
Choose Throat Lozenges and Cough Drops that are Sugar-Free
When you keep coughing, your mouth can become dry and may irritate you.
Cough drops can help soothe your throat for some time.
Moreover, they can also treat your cough and so can throat lozenges.
However, you need to suck on them constantly to notice any change.
Therefore, you should make sure that they are sugarless as they are constantly in contact with your tongue and teeth.
Check the ingredients label if there is any fructose or corn syrup then that too is sugar.
Check for xylitol alternatives.
Sugary cough drops are equal to sugary candies.
Hence, if you suck on sugary cough drops for long then the cavity-causing bacteria have more time to feed on the sugars in the cough drops.
Moreover, if your mouth is already dry then there is no saliva to fight the bacteria.
Hence, the bacteria can keep feeding on them and produce acids.
As a result, these acids will wear out the enamel by eroding it.
Over time there will be holes in your teeth because of constantly sucking on sugary cough drops.
Therefore, when you are already ill, do not create another problem for yourself.
Look for xylitol cough drops that are sugar-free.
The longer you will chew on the sugary drops, the greater amount of bacteria it will attract.
Hence, it is better to first, take only medicines for your treatment.
However, if you still need cough drops and lozenges then make sure that they are sugarless.
Artificial sweeteners such as xylitol will give the drops a pleasant taste while preventing the harms of sucking on sugary cough drops.
Besides that, you should be drinking plenty of fluids to retain your overall health as well as your oral health.
This will keep the saliva flowing and prevent acids from eroding tooth enamel.
Drink Fluids For Cold and Flu, But Choose Wisely
When you are sick with a cold and flu, your body may undergo temperature changes.
Because of the cough, fever and flu, you may feel extremely cold at times.
Hence, you should eat warm foods and take warm drinks.
Green tea or milk tea is a good option to warm yourself.
However, you may want to avoid adding sugar and lemon inside them.
Sugars are not good for your teeth.
They can especially cause decay and cavities in your mouth which may be currently dry because of medicines.
Hence, you should rather drink them without taking any sugars.
The same goes for lemon.
Firstly, the acidic lemon is not great when you have a cough, flu and sore throat.
Though, it is also not good for your oral health because of its acidic content which can lead to enamel erosion.
The best drink to take during this time is to hydrate yourself by drinking water.
Drinking water benefits oral health by stimulating salivary flow.
This helps to wash away the food particles and the acids.
Moreover, it also brings the minerals in the saliva to the teeth.
Hence, it manages to remineralize the enamel and strengthening it.
Your doctor may also recommend sports drinks that contain electrolytes.
If you are vomiting and also have the stomach flu then there will be an electrolyte imbalance inside your body.
You need to replenish the electrolytes and energy drinks help to achieve that.
However, you need to drink them only in a small quantity as they too contain lots of sugars.
Therefore, once you feel a little better, the best drink to resort to is water.
Though, it is very important to constantly drink it, especially when you have flu and fever.
So keep drinking lots of water while you are unwell.
Use a Mouthwash After You Throw Up
While coughing, runny nose sneezing, fever, strep throat, body aches and sore throat are the main cold symptoms and flu symptoms, you may also get symptoms including stomach flu which results in vomiting occasionally.
It is terrible to get sick all of a sudden and throwing up upsets your entire body.
It makes you weaker.
Plus, it also leaves a very bad taste in your mouth that you want to get rid of immediately.
However, it is not good to brush right after you throw up.
You should wait a while because vomiting brings the stomach acids right into your mouth.
They coat your teeth and brushing them hardly with an abrasive will only be more detrimental to your dental health.
In fact, you will only be brushing the acid across all your teeth.
Hence, it is better to rinse your mouth with a neutralizing mouthwash.
Either you can use a diluted commercial mouthwash or rinse your mouth with a mixture of water and one teaspoon of baking soda.
Otherwise, simply swish your mouth with water to clear the acids.
Wait 30 minutes afterward and then brush your teeth.
This helps to wash away the acids and prevents them from worsening your oral health.
Hence, do not rush to cleanse off the aftertaste of the vomit, rather rinse, spit and wait to brush after a while.
Cold and flu make you terribly sick but happen quite often with changing weather.
Hence, prepare to keep your oral health in check whenever that happens.
You can prevent the cold-causing viruses and bacterial infections by getting a flu vaccine (flu shot).
However, if you feel shortness of breath and the pain does not subside from taking pain relievers then follow the instructions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mayo Clinic to stay home.
It may be respiratory illnesses, due to the influenza virus or it could be Covid-19.
Neglecting your dental care at this time will result in problems later.
In fact, follow these tips even when you are not sick to keep your oral health perfect.