IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR and unfortunately, that usually means it's also cold and flu season. But what does oral health have to do with getting sick? When you feel the first symptoms of a cold or flu, you may spring for the cough medicine.
While it's helpful to relieve discomfort, it's just as wise to maintain good oral hygiene. In fact, research suggests that keeping good oral hygiene can actually help to combat cold and flu by strengthening your immune system. As your South San Francisco dentist , we put together this dental guide to help our patients when they're feeling under the weather.
Feel Better Through Dental Hygiene
When you're feeling under the weather, the last thing on your mind may be your oral health. However, the simple daily habits of flossing and brushing your teeth are still important. Not only do they help us feel more normal and rejuvenated but they can give us a small sense of accomplishment that does a lot for our overall sense of wellbeing. Daily brushing and flossing also get rid of more oral bacteria, giving your immune system less work to do!
Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more!
When your body is battling an infection, it needs extra fluid to do so. Dry mouth is a common problem that can occur when a person isn't feeling 100%, particularly when they can't easily breathe through their nose. Alleviate these issues by loading up on water, soup and low sugar juice. Saliva is an important player in keeping cavity-causing bacteria away and dry mouth can also increase your chances of cavities and gum disease so stay calm and hydrate on!
Can Stuffy Noses Lead to Cavities?
Breathing through our mouths can lead to reduced saliva production, increasing susceptibility to tooth decay. It's essential to recognize this impact since saliva acts as a primary defense against harmful oral bacteria. Saliva not only clears away lingering food particles but also maintains a neutral oral pH crucial for enamel strength.
Certain medications, such as antihistamines, pain relievers, and decongestants, can contribute to mouth dryness. To counteract this effect, ensure adequate water intake and prioritize breathing through your nose whenever feasible.
Optimize Oral Health by Reducing Sugar Intake
Combatting harmful bacteria in our mouths begins with minimizing their favorite food source: sugar. Our mouths can become breeding grounds for bacteria, thriving on sugary substances. Even seemingly harmless sugary cough drops, though they may soothe a cough, pose a dental risk comparable to hard candy. In our quest for better oral health, it's crucial to not only reduce overall consumption of sugary foods and beverages but also opt for sugar-free cough drops when addressing a cough.
Stay hydrated during illnesses by choosing water or other sugar-free beverages to replenish the body's fluids. After consuming sugar, a quick rinse with water helps eliminate residue and mitigate potential dental damage. This practice becomes especially vital during stomach bugs when frequent vomiting exposes teeth to stomach acid. Prioritize ample water intake to safeguard teeth from acid-induced harm in such situations. For comprehensive dental well-being, adopting these strategies can play a pivotal role in starving harmful bacteria and preserving optimal oral health.
What to Do with Your Toothbrush
It's generally unnecessary to discard your toothbrush after recovering from a cold or flu, as advised by the ADA. Unless you have a compromised immune system, the risk of reinfection from germs lingering on your toothbrush is minimal. Your body has likely developed immunity to the same viruses, reducing the likelihood of falling ill again. Instead, focus on essential practices like refraining from sharing your toothbrush, keeping it separate from others to prevent cross-contamination, rinsing it after each use, and allowing it to air dry between uses.
However, if replacing your toothbrush brings you peace of mind, feel free to do so. Additionally, consider replacing your toothbrush if it has exceeded the recommended usage duration of 3-4 months. This ensures optimal oral hygiene and peace of mind.
We Want To Hear Your Oral Health Questions
Should you have any lingering questions about the intricate relationship between common illnesses and oral health, feel free to reach out! Our goal is to ensure that all our patients possess the knowledge necessary to maintain optimal dental well-being, even during times of illness. Your inquiries are valued as we strive to empower you with the information needed for the care of your teeth and gums, especially when you may not be feeling your best!
Take care this flu season!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.