Cold and flu season is here, and perhaps you have noticed others around you have started to cough and sneeze. You may not realise that general health is closely connected to oral health, so when you have a cold or the flu, it affects your dental health. If you get sick this winter, follow our easy tips to help protect your oral health.
Pay Extra Attention When Brushing Your Teeth
While it’s important to clean your teeth thoroughly at all times of the year, you are more likely to use medications that contain sugars when you have a cold. These sugars can harm your teeth, especially if you are sucking on cough drops continuously to soothe a sore throat. Although you can purchase sugar-free cough drops, these may be more acidic, and the acids can also damage your teeth. After sucking on cough sweets, it’s best to wait half an hour before cleaning your teeth.
When brushing your teeth, make sure you spend at least two minutes cleaning all tooth surfaces thoroughly. Try to brush methodically, and if you have an electric toothbrush, it will probably alert you when it’s time to move on to a new section of your mouth.
Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly
Has it been a while since you replaced your toothbrush? You need to purchase a new toothbrush every three or four months or sooner if it begins to look worn. It can also be a good idea to replace your toothbrush after being ill because it can harbour bacteria.
Staying hydrated, especially if you are feeling ill or under the weather, is especially important, and it helps ensure you can create plenty of saliva. Saliva is an important part of controlling harmful bacteria in the mouth, helping keep your mouth fresher and cleaner. It washes away excess food particles that can feed these bacteria. If your mouth feels dry, it can be uncomfortable, and your chance of cavities and gum disease increases. Many medications, including decongestants, can cause dry mouth as a side effect. Also, if you have a cold, you are more likely to have a stuffy nose and need to breathe through your mouth, drying out your oral tissues. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink plenty of water, so keep a refillable bottle with you or have a large glass of water nearby to sip on frequently.
If You Have Been Sick, Swish Your Mouth with Water before Brushing
It’s quite common to feel sick or vomit when you have the flu, and your immediate reaction is probably to reach for your toothbrush. However, being sick exposes your teeth to strong stomach acid, so it’s best to wait a while for the acidity levels in your mouth to normalise. Try making a mouth rinse by dissolving a teaspoon of baking soda in water to help neutralise acids more quickly. If you have a sore throat, gargling with salt water can help to soothe it and reduce bacterial levels.