This is one of the worst flu seasons we’ve had in almost a decade and it’s not over yet. But while we’re all trying to stay healthy, it’s important not to forget about our oral health. Not only is keeping our mouth clean and healthy one of the best ways to prevent getting sick, it can also be instrumental to our recovery. Taking care of your teeth during AND after illness is important, so here are four things you can do to keep your mouth healthy:
- Keep practicing good oral hygiene, especially after vomiting.
While brushing your teeth may feel like a monumental task when you can barely crawl out of bed, it’s important to make the effort to keep your mouth as healthy as possible when you’re feeling rotten.
This is especially important after you’ve thrown up, not only because your breath smells bad, but because the stomach acid that comes up when you vomit can destroy your teeth. Food particles and bacteria that come up when you vomit can also have a detrimental effect when left to sit in your mouth for too long, so brush your teeth as soon as you can after vomiting. At the very least give your mouth a good rinse with water.
Along with this is the rule not to share your toothbrush. Viruses and bacteria can spread when you spray it over our environment through coughing or sneezing, but they can also survive on surfaces outside the body for days, or even weeks. By sharing a toothbrush when you’re sick, you’re putting that toothbrush into an environment full of nasty bacteria and then giving it to someone else so they can smear that bacteria all over the inside of their mouth, where the bacteria will be most likely to take hold.
- Use sugar-free cough drops.
In addition to breaking down your teeth, sugar can actually exacerbate a sore throat in the long run. It feeds the bacteria that’s making you sick and can prolong your illness, even if it alleviates one of the symptoms for a short time. If you need relief from a sore throat, use sugar-free cough drops, or better yet, hot water or tea with a little bit of lemon and honey. They’ll naturally soothe your throat and help you feel better with minimal adverse effects on your mouth.
- Stay hydrated to avoid dry mouth.
Staying hydrated is always an important part of your overall health, including your oral health, but it’s especially important to remember to stay hydrated when you’re sick. You tend to lose a lot of fluids, whether through sweating, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, so you need to be careful to replace those fluids by drinking lots of water.
Dry mouth is also a common symptom of various winter-time diseases, especially colds, and it leaves your mouth vulnerable to the nasty bacteria that want to take over and destroy your teeth. By drinking water regularly, you can help to naturally wash out the bad bacteria while keeping the good bacteria to help keep your mouth healthy.
- Choose the right fluids.
It’s not enough to just drink fluids when you’re sick, you have to choose the right fluids. While juice or soda may seem like a good way to get calories when you’re not eating much, they can wreak havoc on your teeth, especially when your immune system is already compromised. Stick to water, unsweetened herbal tea, and bone broth to give your body everything it needs to heal naturally.
If you want to keep your teeth healthy and strong, you must take care of them. At Simply Smiles Dentistry, we can show you how to properly care for your teeth. You will have a great smile that lasts a lifetime.
Until next time…Keep on Smiling!