From sniffles and coughs to sore throats and fevers, there are plenty of telltale signs that cold and flu season is among us. Unfortunately, December through February is typically prime time for a cold or the flu to affect your family, and we’re just now starting to enter that time frame. While it’s understandable that your sole focus is on feeling better, your dentist in Austin wants to encourage you to also help keep your teeth healthy and protected during any sickness.
We always recommend that all patients brush and floss their teeth every day, even when they aren’t feeling well. In fact, brushing your teeth may be even more important when you’re under the weather. Regular brushings will help keep harmful bacteria from settling in the mouth and causing problems such as decay.
The tried-and-true method of gargling with warm salt water to help ease a sore throat or painful swallowing still stands today. Rinsing and spitting out salt water helps to essentially pull fluids, along with germs and viruses, out of the throat and into a cup, bucket, or sink. Saltwater can also kill bacteria, ease discomfort, and help you feel better.
Many medications including popular cough drops and syrups contain sugar, and sugar is bad for teeth. Your dentist in Austin understands that you will probably use any medicine that helps you feel better, but we do encourage you to find sugar-free options. If they aren’t available, make sure to swish or drink water after taking medicine.
Every doctor and dentist will agree that we should drink plenty of water when we’re sick. Water helps keep the body and the mouth hydrated and can replace any fluids that are lost through vomiting, sweating, or simply not feeling well enough to eat or drink normally. Staying hydrated during an illness has many benefits such as helping to prevent bacteria from entering the body, decreasing a painfully dry nose, and combating an uncomfortable dry mouth. Dry mouth is a particular concern for your dentist in Austin as a dry mouth is the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive, increasing the risk of decay and other oral health problems.
Even though some research suggests that getting a new toothbrush after an illness isn’t necessary, we like to err on the side of caution. Toothbrushes should be replaced at least every three or four months, but we also recommend getting a new toothbrush after you start to feel better. In between using your old toothbrush and the new one, make sure to rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with hot water to help kill bacteria.
During this cold and flu season, protect your family by disinfecting surfaces that are touched often, encouraging sneezing and coughing into the elbow, and washing hands often. While we hope you all stay healthy, if someone does get sick, try to isolate them and make sure to protect their oral health along with their overall health.