The newspaper headlines have already begun to warn us of the impending flu season-maybe the “worst in a decade” according to local newspapers. Doctors are encouraging everyone to get the influenza vaccination, however with several months left in the flu season, many people will still get sick. Although your oral health may be the last thing on your mind when you have the flu, your Rockville area dentist, Victor R. Siegel, encourages you to take care of your teeth even when you are just trying to take care of your body.
Five Ways the Flu Can Hurt Your Teeth
1. Drinking Acidic Beverages. Yes, we are told to hydrate, get more fluids, and we all know that means water, but what do you usually drink when you are sick? Probably juice, ginger ale, or hot tea spiked with sugar. Perhaps you even suck on a sweet popsicle. The best way to minimize the acidic effects of these drinks on your teeth when you’re sick is to down them quickly, then brush your teeth or at the very least, drink some water to rinse away some of that acid and sugar.
2. You don’t feel like brushing and flossing. I get it, when you are sick, taking care of your teeth is the last thing on your mind. But if you can take just a few minutes each day to clean your teeth, you will prevent tartar build up. Added bonus? When your mouth is clean, you actually do feel better, even if it’s only temporary!
3. Sinus trouble can lead to sore teeth and gums.When you are stuffed up, you usually breathe through your mouth. This can dry out your gums, making them hurt. In general, just being sick can weaken your immune system as it fights the illness in your body, making it harder to fight the bacteria in your mouth.
4. Dry mouth. Not only does breathing with your mouth open cause dry mouth, so does all that coughing. When your mouth is dry, it is not producing enough saliva, which kills bacteria and neutralizes acid. How do you treat a dry mouth? Stay hydrated- in other words- DRINK MORE WATER!
5. Cold medicine. Many cold medicines are full of sugar and very acidic. This problem can be avoided by taking these medicines in pill form, or by brushing your teeth or rinsing with water after taking them. Cough drops also tend to be high in sugar, but there are many sugar free brands that will not do the same damage to your teeth.
The usual advice from your doctor when you are sick with the flu is rest and plenty of fluids. Just make sure you add "keep brushing and flossing your teeth" to the get well regimen so that you can maintain your healthy smile!