The cold winds and rain signal the coming of the cold and flu season.
If you are not vaccinated by the flu shot or flu vaccine, soon you may be sneezing and coughing.
Fever, sore throat, strep throat and nasal congestion may accompany these symptoms.
However, one thing you may overlook when you are sick is your oral hygiene.
After all, who cares for their mouth health when they are sick in bed.
Though your negligence right now can take a toll on your oral health for a long time.
This article discusses the tips that can help you take care of your oral health while you are fighting this sickness.
So what are those? Let’s find out below!
Keep Drinking Water For Dry Mouth
While drinking water is essential to stay hydrated during your illness, it also protects your oral health.
It provides your tooth enamel with minerals like calcium and phosphorus.
Hence, strengthening it against tooth cavity protection and tooth decay.
We’ll discuss more on that later.
However, there is another use of staying hydrated i.e. to prevent a dry mouth.
The medicines that you take while you are sick, decongestants, pain relievers and antihistamines reduce the saliva inside your mouth.
Furthermore, when you have nasal congestion, you can no longer breathe through your nose when you are lying down.
Hence, you open your mouth to breathe through it.
If you kept it open all night, it will cause your mouth to become dry.
A dry mouth has detrimental consequences for your oral health. Such as:
- The lack of saliva encourages the bacterial accumulation
- This leads to cavities and decay
- It can also cause bad breath
- Swallowing and chewing becomes difficult so you cannot take the nutrients you require to get better
Your saliva is the first line of defense inside your mouth.
When that decreases because of cold symptoms, medicines and flu symptoms such as nasal congestion, then the bacteria accumulate and feed on the sugary and starchy food you eat.
This makes your teeth more susceptible to enamel erosion.
You should not stop taking your medicines that cause dryness but you should combat it by drinking water.
Plus chewing gum can help increase the salivary flow inside your mouth too.
Additionally, you can use a humidifier to moisten the air.
Also, take hot water showers to treat your nasal congestion.
You can also ask your dentist for a saliva stimulant.
Furthermore, look into ways to reduce bad breath. Keep reading to know more on that below!
Maintain Oral Hygiene to Fight Against Bad Breath in Cold and Flu
As your mouth becomes dry due to a lack of saliva and because of taking medicines, bacteria accumulate on the teeth but also on the tongue.
This causes your breath to smell bad. Furthermore, since you have nasal congestion, nasal drip can also make your breath smell bad.
The only solution for that is to maintain good oral hygiene.
Use a tongue scraper to get rid of the bacteria on your tongue.
Keep brushing and flossing even when you don’t feel like it.
Also, remember to not share your toothbrush with anyone else.
Microbes such as bacteria and cold causing viruses can live on moist surfaces for about 72 hours, so can the flu virus.
Hence, no one else should use your toothbrush when you are not well but even otherwise.
Also, take care of the hygiene in other ways.
The influenza virus can spread to people around you hence, do not cough or sneeze in your hand.
Rather do so in your elbow and cover your face whenever you do so.
Flu will last for 7 to 10 days and you can get the common cold up to two to three times a year.
If it lasts beyond that, you should visit your doctor. In fact, start wearing a mask as soon as you do not feel well and isolate yourself.
It could also be respiratory illness or contagious disease such as the Coronavirus, Covid-19 disease, especially if you have shortness of breath.
Hence, take care of yourself and the people around you. Stay home till you get a diagnosis and keep washing hands to prevent the spread of the viral infection.
You do not need to change your toothbrush when you feel better. However, if you have a weak immune system then you may get the bacterial infection again.
Though replace it if it has been over 3 months in use.
Rinsing Mouth After Throwing Up
Your condition may get worse resulting in the stomach flu and vomiting.
It is understandable that you want to brush immediately after throwing up however, it is not the right thing to do.
Bear with the bad taste in your mouth for some time because this taste results from the stomach acids.
They are already coating your teeth but if you also go ahead and start brushing immediately then you are basically rubbing all the acids on your teeth.
This will erode your enamel and make it weak causing erosion.
Hence, your tooth becomes more susceptible to decay and cavities as bacteria enter the tooth structure when the enamel is weak.
So do not do the mistake of rushing to brush your teeth. Rather, you should wait and simply rinse your mouth.
You can either rinse, swish and spit with plain water or you could make a mouth rinse.
Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with water and rinse your mouth with it. Swish thoroughly so that it reaches all the teeth, even the back ones.
After rinsing spit it and then wait for at least 30 minutes to brush.
It is crucial to not brush before that even if you are tempted to do so.
Drinks Lots of Fluids in Cold and Flu But Choose Carefully
While you are dehydrated during cold and flu, you should be taking fluids.
Water is the best to drink to keep hydrated but it is also important to generate salivary flow to prevent dry mouth.
Moreover, it strengthens the enamel by providing calcium and phosphate it remineralizing it.
But when you have a runny nose and your body feels cold, you probably need a warm drink.
You can take coffee or tea but make sure it is without sugars.
Bacteria can feed on the sugars converting them into acids and eroding the enamel.
Also, avoid adding lemon to any of your drinks as that too is acidic and can cause your enamel to wear down.
Therefore, refrain from sugary and acidic drinks.
Your doctor may recommend you to take sports drinks as they help to restore electrolytes in your body.
However, they are also sugary hence, you need to consume them in moderation.
Remember that whatever you drink right now will have an impact on your teeth even after you feel well and recover.
Therefore, it is best to stick with water or take warm drinks that do not contain acids or sugars.
Speaking of sugars, it is also crucial to prevent consuming any sugary product when you are sick.
Such as cough drops which should be sugar-free.
Taking Sugar-free Cough Drops
When you are constantly coughing and have a sore throat, cough drops can provide temporary relief to soothe your throat.
You have to keep sucking on them for them to dissolve gradually and work on your throat.
However, this is also the reason why you should only opt for sugar-free cough drops.
Throat lozenges and cough drops that contain sugars will worsen the condition of your mouth.
Sucking on cough drops full of sugar is the equivalent of fucking on candy.
The longer the sugar is in contact with your teeth, the longer bacteria keep feeding on these sugars.
Hence, when you keep sucking them, the cavity-causing bacteria can keep metabolizing the sugars to form acids.
The acids land directly on your teeth hence, eroding the enamel gradually.
Though you can still relive your throat by purchasing sugar-free cough drops.
Check the labels before purchasing the cough drops so that they do not contain fructose, corn syrup.
Sugar-free drops usually contain the artificial sugar xylitol which is healthier for your teeth.
Buy those instead of sugary cough drops which will keep causing oral health problems even after you recover.
Toothache in Cold and Flu
Sometimes when you are sick with a cold it can result in a toothache.
This is because of tenderness surrounding your sinuses. Hence, sinus pain from sinusitis is resulting in toothache.
Other symptoms of that are not feeling a sense of smell and taste, plus your eyes, nose and cheeks may hurt and feel pressure.
The most prominent symptom is the drainage of thick yellow mucous. It drains from your nose or throat.
The upper rear teeth may hurt and not only a single tooth. Consult your doctor to relieve your sinusitis.
Thye can provide you with medications to ease your pain.
However, using a saline nasal spray can also provide some relief and ease the symptoms. As you get better, the sinus is no longer tender hence the pain goes away the tooth.
If the pain persists it may hint towards a more serious oral problem such as decay and cavities.
When you are sick with a cold and flu do not forego oral care.
It is important to keep your oral as well as physical well-being healthy to live longer.