Tips for a Healthy Mouth this Cold and Flu Season

Cold and Flu season is upon us and we’re talking about 4 ways to take care of your mouth when you’re sick.

1. Toothbrush Hygiene

We all know to wash our hands frequently, but don’t forget to keep up your dental and toothbrush hygiene too. According to the CDC, the flu virus can live on moist surfaces for 72 hours. Don’t share your toothbrush, especially when sick. It’s not necessary to replace your toothbrush after your illness has cleared, but when in doubt, throw it out. You should be routinely replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months.

2. Choose Sugar Free Cough Drops

Many cough drops on the market are essentially candy. Check the labels and choose sugar free options. Stay clear of cough drops that list fructose or corn syrup as ingredients. Remember, it’s not how much sugar you consume, but the frequency. The longer you keep a sugary cough drop in your mouth, the more time the cavity-causing bacteria has to feast on the sugar and produce the acid that breaks down your teeth.

3. Stay Hydrated

When you’re sick, you need plenty of fluids for many reasons. One is to prevent dry mouth. Not only is it uncomfortable, dry mouth can also put you at greater risk for cavities. The medications you might be taking for a cold or flu (antihistamines, decongestants or pain relievers) can also dry out your mouth. So, drink plenty of water and suck on sugarless cough drops or throat lozenges to keep that saliva flowing.

4. Choose the Right Fluids

I recently had a patient who was sipping on what they deemed the “cold cure”. While this may have soothed their throat, this mixture of warm water, honey, and lemon was a recipe for tooth disaster. Sugar can fuel the cavity-causing bacteria and lemon is acidic which breaks down the enamel of your teeth. The safest thing to drink is water.

We hope you stay healthy this winter season!

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