Your nose is running and you can’t stop sneezing. It’s cold season and one of the last things you want to do is worry about your teeth and gums. But, keeping your mouth healthy when you’ve got a cold is important. In fact, taking a few minutes to give your mouth some TLC when you’re feeling under the weather can help you feel better overall.
Here’s what you can do to take good care of your mouth throughout the cold season, including what to do if you come down with a cold or flu yourself.
Continue to Brush Your Teeth
You might feel woozy or have difficulty standing in front of your bathroom sink for too long when you’ve got a cold or the flu. But you still need to brush your teeth thoroughly when you’re sick.
Brushing your teeth will remove any plaque, bacteria and other debris from your teeth, gums
Along with practicing good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing, it’s a good idea to practice good overall hygiene. If you sneeze, cover your mouth. Wash your hands frequently to reduce the spread of germs and to help those around you stay healthy.
Replace Your Toothbrush
Once you’ve gotten over the cold or flu, it can be a good idea to replace your toothbrush. Although you aren’t likely to reinfect yourself with the virus unless you have a compromised immune system, getting a new toothbrush can signal to yourself that you’re making a fresh start after your illness.
If you aren’t going to swap out your toothbrush for a new one after a cold, at least remember to replace your brush every three months.
Be Careful With the Cough Drops
A cough drop or two when you’ve got a sore throat or cough can help you feel relief. But many cough drops are full of sugar, which can coat your teeth and increase your risk of developing cavities.
If you do like to use cough drops, keep an eye out for sugar-free options and give those a try instead of traditional drops. The same is true if you use cold medication to help improve your symptoms. Look for medicines that have xylitol or sucralose, rather than real sugar.
When it’s difficult to breathe through your nose, you’re more likely to breathe through your mouth, which can dry you out. Having a cold can also be drying because your body is busy producing extra mucous to help clear away the virus from any affected tissues.
You might not feel like drinking many liquids when you’re under the weather, but it’s essential that you make a strong effort to get enough fluids. Keep a bottle or glass of water by your side and make sure to fill it up when it gets empty.
Staying hydrated when you’re sick will also help you protect your teeth and gums. A dry mouth is an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and thrive. But when you drink enough water, you help to rinse away any decay-causing bacteria.
Reschedule Any Appointments
If you have a teeth cleaning or other dental appointment coming up during the time that you’re sick, your best bet is to reschedule the appointment until after you’ve gotten better. You don’t want to get other patients sick by coughing and sneezing on them in the waiting room. Rescheduling can also protect your dentist.
Of course, if you have any symptoms that you find concerning when you have a cold or the flu, such as severe tooth pain, you should still come in for a visit. Sometimes, the common cold can cause symptoms in your mouth, thanks to pressure in the sinus cavity. In other cases, tooth pain and other mouth issues can be a sign of a dental problem that needs treatment and attention right away.
Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist in the Miami area who also provides dental cleanings, exams, and dental implants. To learn more about his practice in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 to schedule a consultation today.