Six Dental Care Tips for Cold and Flu Season

mug of tea, box of tissues, and reading glasses gathered on table

Six Dental Care Tips for Cold and Flu Season

With cold and flu season in full swing this time of year, it’s crucial that you take extra care of your dental health. Being sick can cause dehydration and other problems that make your mouth more vulnerable to infections. Continuing to brush and floss your teeth when you have a cold or the flu protects your oral health and may even help you feel better. Here are some dental care tips to help you maintain good oral hygiene when you’re not feeling well. 

Six Dental Care Tips for When You’re Sick with a Cold or the Flu

1: Don’t Forget to Brush and Floss

Brushing your teeth is probably the last thing you think about when you’re sick. But you should never skip brushing and flossing your teeth, even if you have a cold or the flu. It only takes 48 hours for plaque to harden into tartar that can’t be removed at home. And if you wear dentures, it’s important to thoroughly clean them when you’re sick to eliminate germs and keep your mouth healthy.  

2: Drink More Water

Colds and the flu can cause dehydration, and some of the medicines used to treat them can cause dry mouth as a side effect. Your saliva plays a vital role in maintaining good oral health, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help your body fight off the sickness and help your mouth produce enough saliva. Drinking water throughout the day also removes the food particles and bacteria that cause cavities. 

3: Replace Your Toothbrush

Once you start feeling better, make sure to replace your toothbrush. Viruses and bacteria can linger on toothbrush bristles, and make you sick all over again. The germs can also spread to other people in your household if your toothbrush accidentally touches someone else’s. Even when you aren’t sick, make sure to store toothbrushes away from each other, and never share your toothbrush with another person. 

4: Gargle Warm Salt Water

Sore throats and congestion are common symptoms during cold and flu season. Gargling with warm salt water can provide pain relief and also help kill bacteria in the throat and mouth. Mix 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, gargle for around 15 seconds, then spit. This simple remedy can help you maintain good oral health and soothe a sore throat at the same time. 

5: Choose Sugar-Free Cold Medicine

Many over-the-counter cold and flu remedies contain high levels of sugar—especially lozenges and syrups. Prolonged exposure to sugar contributes to tooth decay, so look for products sweetened with xylitol, a natural sugar substitute that helps prevent cavities.  

6: Rinse Your Mouth After Vomiting

If vomiting is one of your flu symptoms, don’t brush your teeth right afterward. Stomach acids can be very harsh on teeth, softening their enamel and increasing the risk of tooth sensitivity and decay. After vomiting, rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash to wash away residual acids. Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth, to allow time for your saliva to neutralize the acids in your mouth. 

Keep Your Teeth Healthy Year-Round with Regular Checkups

Taking care of your oral health during cold and flu season is crucial in preventing dental complications. By following these six tips, you can safeguard your teeth and gums while you’re sick so you can focus on recovery. However, don’t forget that maintaining good oral health also means visiting your dentist for cleanings. If you’re due for a checkup, contact Dr. Saba and Associates in Sun Lakes to make an appointment today. 


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (1/29/2024). Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash