Tips for Oral Care During Cold and Flu Season

girl with a cold

It’s that time of year everyone dreads, cold and flu season. If you or someone in your house gets sick the first objective is to help them feel better as soon as possible. Honestly, it’s probably not your teeth you are worried about. But cold and flu season can present some real problems for your teeth. Your Saginaw, MI dental team has compiled a few tips for oral care to help you protect your teeth and mouth when sickness is rampant.

Time to Toss Your Toothbrush?

Dr. Jennifer Schau suggests you never share a toothbrush with another person. It’s not a good idea and you can end up sharing germs and viruses. You do cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, right? That’s because it helps protect others from catching a cold or the flu. Not sharing your toothbrush is another way to protect each other. You may also have heard you should toss your toothbrush after being sick. This is not necessarily true. It’s not likely you will get re-infected if you continue to use it. However, it’s better safe than sorry and if it’s been three or more months since you replaced your toothbrush, you might consider tossing it for a new one.

Cough Drops and Oral Care

When you get a cold or the flu, you may use cough drops to help soothe your throat or help clear your sinuses. The problem is they have a lot of sugar in them and that can be bad for the teeth. Sucking on a cough drop gives the bacteria in your mouth just what it needs to survive and thrive. Even though they provide a little bit of relief, it can lead to cavities down the road. Before buying cough drops, read the ingredients listed on the container to see if there is sugar in them. You can purchase cough drops that are sugar-free to help protect your oral health.

Use a Mouth Rinse

Throwing up is not a pleasant experience and talking about it is not fun. However, when you have the flu or a virus it’s a real possibility. When you vomit, your teeth are exposed to stomach acid. Brushing can be detrimental and end up coating your teeth with acid. Rinsing your mouth out with water can help get rid of the acid. You can also make your own mouth rinse using a little baking soda in water. Swish it around and spit it out, and then wait about 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.

Hydration to Protect Your Teeth

Your doctor will probably suggest drinking more liquids when you are sick to prevent dehydration. But when you are well hydrated, it can also protect your teeth. Getting dehydrated can lead to dry mouth which can lead to having cavities. Also, when you take some medications that are used to treat flu-like symptoms, they can dry your mouth out some too. Staying hydrated helps prevent dry mouth. Using sugar-free cough drops can help the mouth produce adequate amounts of saliva which can help prevent dry mouth as well.
Water is the overall best and safest choice for staying hydrated. If your doctor suggests a sports drink to help with electrolyte balance, just drink it for as long as you need to. You can also try sugar-free sports drinks to help protect your teeth.

Contact Your Saginaw, MI Dentist

If you still have questions about these tips for oral care, or how you can protect your oral health during flu and cold season, please contact our offices. Dr. Schau and the team will be happy to answer your questions. If it’s time for your routine exam, please schedule yours today!