When you have the flu, it can make even your normal daily routine feel much more difficult to do. You may end up letting a lot of things go as you focus on getting well. However, your oral health shouldn’t be one of them.
Maintaining good oral hygiene practices not only protect your teeth and gums but may help you to feel better and reduce the risk of infecting those around you. Here are five tips you can do to stay on top of your oral health when you’re feeling under the weather.
1. Brush Your Teeth Regularly and Thoroughly
Having a cold or flu infection makes brushing and flossing more important than ever. Not only does it protect against bacteria, but it can also help you to feel somewhat better when your mouth feels clean and fresh.
2. Use a Salt Water Gargle
You can use warm salt water to clean your mouth of bacteria and reduce bad breath and plaque. It also has the added benefit of soothing a throat inflamed by frequent coughing. Take a tablespoon of salt and dissolve it into a glass of warm water (not hot). Gargle and spit out the salt water until you’ve finished off the glass.
3. Choose Sugar-Free Cough Drops
Most cough drops have high amounts of sugar in them, and if you use them frequently when sick, it can increase bacteria in the mouth and raise the risk of cavities. Using sugar-free cough drops allows you the same soothing relief without putting your teeth at risk.
4. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Hydration is essential to healing from a viral infection, but it’s also important for your oral health. Dry mouth is especially common when you’re sick with the flu. As congestion makes it difficult to breathe through the nose, you may notice your mouth going dry from prolonged breathing through the mouth. A dry environment encourages the growth of bacteria, so drinking fluids regularly keeps your mouth from drying out and protects your teeth.
It's also important to drink the right fluids. Sports drinks provide beneficial electrolytes but are also full of sugars, so drink them only in moderation. Most of your hydration should come through water – limit juices and sports drinks, and avoid sodas and energy drinks entirely.
5. Toss the Used Toothbrush
Once your symptoms start getting better, it’s time to replace your toothbrush. Bacteria and viruses can live on moist surfaces for days and put you at risk of reinfection. Trade it for a fresh, clean one so you can stay on the road to recovery.
The flu can wear you down, but it doesn’t have to wear down your oral health. For more tips on protecting your oral health during flu season and throughout the year, contact Foothills Family Dental today.