Are You Ready for Cold & Flu Season?
Dental Tips to Help You (and Your Teeth) Stay Healthy During Cold & Flu Season
Winter is officially here…and so is cold and flu season. Being sick can mean that keeping up your brushing and flossing routine is actually even more important! If you are sick, you may need to give your teeth some extra attention to make sure that they stay healthy even though you are not.
You probably know by now that good oral health can do a lot more for your body than simply provide you with whiter teeth and a sparkling smile. But did you realize that good oral health can actually have a bearing on your health in the winter? It can help you get through these months where increased germs put you at risk during cold and flu season.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you survive the winter bugs:
#1 – Brushing Your Teeth When Sick Helps Keep the “Bad Stuff” Off of Your Teeth!
~ Avoid cough drops and cough syrups loaded with sugar. Sugar-free cough drops are better, and if you take cough syrup or a liquid medicine that contains sugar, rinse well or brush after use.
~ If you are unfortunate enough to have a stomach flu that causes vomiting, be sure to brush your teeth well. Acid is bad for your teeth, and while it isn’t the nicest topic to talk about, if you are vomiting, acid is covering your teeth. This acid wears on the enamel, weakening it and causing potential oral health issues.
~ Replace your toothbrush following a cold or illness. Although some studies have shown that re-infection is unlikely, toothbrushes have been shown to grow and harbor bacteria. Better safe than sorry!
#2 – Stay Hydrated
Not only is this good for your body, but it’s good for your oral health too. Be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and try to keep your nasal passages clear. If you are congested or dehydrated, saliva production decreases and you can end up with dry mouth. A dry mouth is at an increased risk for cavities because saliva is necessary to wash away food/drink particles and bacteria between brushing.
#3 – Disinfect
~Disinfect your bite guard. If necessary, over-the-counter bite guards can be replaced easily, but soaking bite guards or retainers that are meant to last for years in an antiseptic mouthwash is a good idea. However, do not use hot water on them, as that may cause the plastic to soften and lose its shape. You can also contact your dentist’s office to ask for help disinfecting retainers or bite guards with cold sterilization.
#4 Toothbrush Care
~ Thoroughly rinse toothbrushes with tap water to remove toothpaste and debris after each use, and store upright to air-dry. Do not cover the toothbrush or place in a closed container while still wet, as this will allow for the growth of more microorganisms than the open air.
~ Never share toothbrushes with another person, and do not store your toothbrush where it can touch another person’s toothbrush. This can lead to cross-contamination and the spreading of illnesses.
One last tip….be sure to sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue to help prevent the spread of germs, and wash your hands frequently!
We always encourage our patients to reschedule if they are sick on the day of their appointment. It is best avoid exposing office staff and other patients to infection; plus, you will recover better (and hopefully faster!) by staying home and resting.
We hope you stay well this winter and all year-round; but if you don’t, we hope you feel better soon…and take care of your smile!