Sickness & Oral Health

Sickness & Oral Health

Sickness & Oral Health

In addition to a worldwide pandemic, we are also in the midst of cold and flu season.  While you may be familiar with the basic ways to keep yourself healthy this season, from constant hand washing to taking various vitamins, did you know there are also things you can do to improve your oral health in the midst of sickness?  Here are a few things to remember while battling sickness this winter.

Stay hydrated.

Staying hydrated is probably the number one piece of advice you will get for any illness, but it is also hugely important for your dental health.  Becoming dehydrated causes dry mouth, which can be extremely harmful to your teeth.  Dry mouth happens when your mouth stops producing enough saliva.  Saliva helps wash germs and bacteria from your teeth after you eat, and it also helps protect you from chronic bad breath.  If you have a stuffy nose and find yourself constantly breathing out of your mouth, dry mouth can become even worse.  Also keep in mind that many over-the-counter decongestants taken for colds and sinus infections are meant to completely dry you up, and that includes your mouth.  The best way to combat dehydration and dry mouth is to drink lots and lots of water.

Limit your sugar intake.

If you’re not feeling well but trying to stay hydrated, you may be tempted to reach for a sports drink or some kind of juice.  The best thing to keep you hydrated is definitely water, but if you want something else, we suggest you opt for a sugar-free sports drink or juice.  Regular sports drinks and juices are filled with sugar, and sugar is one of the main causes of tooth decay.  Also, if you have a terrible cold and are using cough drops to help you breathe and stop coughing, make sure you use sugar-free cough drops.  Many regular cough drops have nearly as much sugar as candy and you may be eating cough drops constantly without even thinking about it.

Rinse your mouth.

In addition to the common cold, another common illness during this time of year is the dreaded stomach bug.  On top of being exceptionally unpleasant, vomit can be terrible for your teeth.  The stomach acids that come in contact with your teeth when vomiting cover them with harmful germs.  Surprisingly, brushing your teeth after you have thrown up doesn’t rid your teeth of the destructive acids but just spreads them around.  Instead of immediately brushing your teeth, first try rinsing your mouth with a mixture of water and baking soda.  Repeat this several times to make sure your mouth is thoroughly clean.  After you have rinsed a few times, then brush your teeth.

When you’re not feeling well, it can be easy to neglect other normal healthy habits.  Even when you’re sick, we encourage you to keep up with your dental hygiene, including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day.  If you have any concerns about your teeth, please call us at Cornerstone Family Dentistry and we’d be happy to make an appointment for you!