Oral Care When Sick

May 10, 2023
Oral Care When Sick| Finesse Dental Care

Cold and flu season is just around the corner! Despite our best efforts, sometimes it can be impossible to avoid getting sick. Regarding your smile, there are a few special considerations to take the next time you catch a bug.

Replace Your Toothbrush

Flu viruses can live up to 72 hours on a moist surface, making your toothbrush an ideal place for the harmful virus to linger. While sharing a toothbrush with someone else is never a good idea, you should avoid it when you are sick. Storing your toothbrush close to other family members' brushes also risks them coming down with your bug. It is wise to stash your toothbrush away from others and replace it once you recover to prevent reinfecting yourself. As a rule, toothbrushes should be replaced every 3-4 months. It may be time to get a new one!

Use Sugar-Free Cough Drops

Sugar is a common sweetener in cough drops. Although they may soothe a scratchy throat, most cough drops contain comparable amounts of sugar to hard candies. The longer a cough drop is in your mouth, the more time cavity-causing bacteria have to attack the sugar transferred to the teeth. It is also wise to avoid cough drops with ingredients like fructose and corn syrup; both are unhealthy for oral and overall health. Next time you have a sore throat, use sugar-free cough drops to prevent developing tooth decay during your cold.

Rinse Mouth After Vomiting

Many people's first instinct after vomiting is to brush their teeth, but waiting is better. Your teeth are covered with stomach acid after you throw up. If you brush your teeth too soon, you will end up rubbing harmful stomach acids all over your teeth. Instead of brushing immediately, swish and spit with water or diluted mouthwash. A half-hour after vomiting, it is safe to brush your teeth.

Prioritize Hydration

Proper hydration is essential when fighting an illness. Many patients experience dry mouth due to dehydration from vomiting or not drinking enough water. A dry mouth is a side effect of certain medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and pain relievers. This condition is not only uncomfortable, but it also increases your risk of tooth decay. For many individuals increasing water intake can prevent dry mouth, especially after losing fluids from vomiting. Chewing gum or sucking on sugar-free cough drops can also stimulate saliva production.

Drink Tooth-Healthy Beverage

Sports drinks do a great job of replacing electrolytes while you are sick. However, you should still stick to water as your primary beverage. The average 32 oz sports drink has over 56 grams of sugar, approximately 14 teaspoons! Sports drinks are high in sugar and acidic. Both characteristics contribute to tooth decay. Sugar-free sports drinks are a more tooth-friendly option to drink in moderation.

Many people enjoy a comforting cup of tea when they are sick. Numerous studies have found that green tea has many benefits for oral health. Although, it is best not to add lemon or sugar to your cup. High sugar consumption leads to tooth decay, and lemons are acidic, which erodes tooth enamel. If you do prefer a dash of sugar or lemon juice in your tea, try to brush your teeth 30 minutes after you finish.

Stay Healthy This Flu Season!

It is easy to let simple things, like brushing your teeth, slip when you aren't feeling well. Stay up on your oral hygiene routine and remember these tooth-healthy tips to prevent your illness from taking a toll on your smile.

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