Oral Health Care Tips During Cold & Flu Season

Here in Chicago, we’ve had a few brushes with spring but let’s not forget that winter isn’t ready to leave us just yet.  After all, it has been known to snow here as late as April.

And winter weather means being cooped up inside all day and sharing germs with family members, colleagues and strangers every day.

Though the average cold or flu might only cause temporary discomfort and inconvenience for your overall health, these illnesses can have long-term damage on your teeth if you don’t keep these smart tips in mind.

1.  Opt for Sugar Free Cough Drops & Syrups

It’s common to pop cough drops for a sore throat or stuffy nose without thinking much about anything but relief from your symptoms.  But it’s important to know that most cough drops and cough syrups contain a lot of sugar – that’s the added ingredient to make them taste like candy.  So it should come as no surprise that, like candy, sugary lozenges and syrups harm your teeth.  Instead, opt for the sugar-free versions, which are available at almost any drugstore.

2.  Brush Often with a Stomach Flu

If you have the misfortune of being struck with a type of flu that causes you to vomit, don’t forget to brush afterwards. Throwing up leaves your mouth covered in acid, which erodes enamel and causes decay.  So, as bad as you may feel, resist the urge to just crawl back in bad without brushing after being sick.

3.  Drink Lots of Water

With respiratory infection, you may very well experience dry mouth.  Besides feeling a little uncomfortable, a lack of saliva is bad for your teeth because the naturally-produced fluid does the valuable job of washing away food particles and bacteria.  In addition to helping your immune system, drinking lots of water helps your oral health as well.

4.  Get a New Toothbrush When You Get Better

Though there are somewhat slim chances that you’ll get re-infected from the toothbrush you used when you were sick, it’s always a good idea to replace it when you’re over your illness.

5.  Disinfect All Dental Tools

On that note, you should also disinfect any oral care tool that can’t easily be replaced after you’re better.  This includes tongue scrapers, water irrigation heads and mouth guards, which can all be sanitized with a soak in an antiseptic mouth wash.

6.  Store Toothbrushes Well

Whether you’re sick or well, you should always rinse your toothbrush well after each use and store it in an upright position in a place where it can air dry so that it doesn’t grow microorganisms.  Furthermore, don’t share toothbrushes and make sure that your toothbrush isn’t touching anyone else’s in storage to avoid spreading germs.

No matter what you do, you can’t entirely avoid getting a cold or the flu from time to time.  But you can take care to maintain good oral health habits even when you’re under the weather.

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