When you’re sick, it’s important to take care of your body, including your teeth. Brushing your teeth is still a necessary habit and may even help you feel better. However, there are certain things you want to avoid and special practices to adopt in order to take care of your mouth while you don’t feel well.
What Not To Do
The first thing you should avoid is cough drops or throat lozenges that contain sugar. Be sure to read the label and refuse to purchase a bag of cough drops that contain fructose or corn syrup. Sugar is dangerous to your mouth because it attracts cavity-producing bacteria. When you suck on cough drops containing sugar, Dr. Gene Romo, an ADA dentists says, “it is like sucking on candy.” Instead, opt for a bag that promotes a sugar-free cough drop and reduces your risk of developing cavities or holes in your teeth. When you’re sick, you may experience the unglamorous symptom of vomiting. This brings us to our second warning. Do not brush your teeth immediately after vomiting. Many people think this is a helpful practice when, in reality, you are spreading acid throughout your mouth. We recommend rinsing your mouth with water or a diluted mouthwash to get rid of the stomach acid in your mouth. After waiting thirty minutes, it is then safe to brush your teeth. Speaking of brushing your teeth, the third thing you need to avoid is sharing a toothbrush. This is never a recommended idea but is especially unwise when you are sick. You do not necessarily have to get a new toothbrush for yourself since it is unlikely you could reinfect yourself. However, if you have been using the same toothbrush for three to four months, it’s time to replace it anyways.
What To Do
When you’re sick, there are several practices we encourage you to adopt. These practices will not only keep your mouth clean, but they will also help you feel better and may protect those around you from getting sick. Good hygiene when you’re sick includes brushing your teeth regularly and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Viruses spread most easily through moisture, so containing a sneeze or cough by coughing into your elbow protects those around you. Wash your hands frequently and remember, use your own toothbrush only! It is also necessary to stay hydrated and avoid dry mouth. Dry mouth increases your risk for cavities. You may be prone to dry mouth if you are taking medication like antihistamines, decongestants or pain relievers. Drink fluids consistently throughout the day in order to keep the saliva flowing. As you consider which fluids to consume when you’re sick, Dr. Romo says, “the safest thing to drink is water.” If you do choose a sports drink to replenish electrolytes, check to see if it’s sugar-free. If you have a fever or a sore throat, you may opt to drink hot tea. If you can, avoid adding lemon and sugar to protect your mouth from unwanted cavities.
We hope that you and your family are staying well during this flu season, but be sure to adhere to these do’s and don’ts so that you keep your mouth healthy. Remember, one of the best ways to take care of your mouth is to schedule a regular cleaning. If you need a dentist you can trust in Bryan-College Station, come see us at Anderson & Atkins, DDS. Schedule an appointment by calling (979) 846-1813.