When you have a cold or the flu, taking care of your body is your top priority—and that includes your mouth. It’s important to take care of your dental health all year round, but especially when you’re sick.
Here are some simple ways to care for your dental health when you’re not feeling well:
Practice Good Hygiene
When you’re sick, you know to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. Don’t forget to keep up your dental and toothbrush hygiene as well.
Wash your hands every 20 minutes with any soap that foams and do this for 20 seconds
The virus attaches itself to hair and clothes. Any detergent or soap kills it but you must take bath or shower when you get in from the street. Avoid sitting down in your home and go straight to the shower. If you cannot wash your clothes daily, hang them in sunlight which also helps to neutralize the virus.
Wash metallic surfaces very carefully bc the virus can stay viable on these for up to 9 days. Take note and be vigilant about touching hand rails, door knobs, etc. and keep these clean in home.
According to the CDC, the flu virus can live on moist surfaces for 72 hours. The number one rule is not to share your toothbrush anytime, but especially when you are sick.
You also probably don’t need to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick. Unless your immune system is severely compromised, the chances of re-infecting yourself are very low. To keep your toothbrush clean, dip your toothbrush in alcohol or 3% Hydrogen Peroxide before each use. If in doubt replace your toothbrush, especially if you’ve had your toothbrush for 3-4 months, when it’s time to replace it anyway.
To disinfect your mouth, rinse daily with Chlorhexidine Gluconate 0.12% (Prescription Required), OTC 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (not to exceed 1X/day), or warm water and salt.
Brush Your Teeth & Gingiva Gently
Use a soft bristle manual or rotary/electric toothbrush to minimize damage to teeth & gums. Angle the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle in gentle circular motions as you clean your teeth one at a time in an arch. DO NOT scrub your teeth back and forth, especially around your gumlines to prevent abrasion and recession around gumlines.
Choose Sugar-Free Cough Drops
Read the label before you pick up a bag at the drug store with an eye to avoid ingredients like fructose or corn syrup. Many cough drops contain sugar, and it is like sucking on candy. The longer you keep a sugary cough drop in your mouth, the more time cavity-causing bacteria has to feast on that sugar, which produces the acid that can leave holes in your teeth. Look for bacteria friendly sugar called Xylitol as an ingredient if possible.
Swish and Spit After Vomiting
One unfortunate side effect of a stomach flu, among other illnesses, is vomiting. You might be tempted to brush your teeth right away, but it’s actually better to wait. When you vomit, stomach acids are coming in contact with your teeth and coating them. If you brush too soon, you’re just rubbing that acid all over the hard outer shell of your teeth.
Instead, swish with water, a diluted mouth rinse or a mixture of water and 1 tsp. baking soda to help wash the acid away. Spit, and brush about 30 minutes later.
Stay Hydrated to Avoid Dry Mouth
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—such as antihistamines, decongestants or pain relievers—can also dry out your mouth, so drink plenty of water and suck on sugarless cough drops, throat lozenges or candies to keep that saliva flowing.
Hager Xylitol Drops
Choose the Right Fluids
When it comes to your mouth and your body, one beverage is always best. “The safest thing to drink is water”.
Sports drinks, or Pedialyte might be recommended to replenish electrolytes when you’re sick, but drink them in moderation and don’t make them a habit after you’ve recovered because unless they are a sugar free version, they contain a lot of sugar.
Best natural source of hydration is “Coconut Water”.
You might also want something to warm you up. “When you have a cold or the flu, you may want something comforting to get through it, like tea. Sweeten your tea with Honey and not sugar. Lemon in tea is great source of vitamin C, but since it is acidic, swish your mouth with warm water and 1tsp of baking soda to neutralize the acidity from lemon.
In addition, take a sip of warm water every 20 minutes bc this keeps your mouth moist and washes any of the virus that’s entered your mouth into your stomach where your gastric juices will neutralize it before it can get to the lungs
Consume acidic drinks in moderation to prevent teeth erosion and damage to teeth.
Stay Healthy Eating Nutritious Food
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and foods that boost your immune system. Take daily supplements & vitamins.
Elderberry is a great daily supplement. Try to elevate your Zinc level.
Try to avoid getting the common flu as this already weakens your system and try to avoid eating and drinking any cold things.
Drink lots of hot liquids - coffees, soups, teas, warm water.
If you feel any discomfort in your throat or a sore throat coming on, attack it immediately gargling with an antiseptic and warm water & salt. The virus enters the system through the throat but will sit in the throat for 3-4 days before it passes into your lungs.
Experts suggest doing this simple verification every morning: Breathe in deeply and hold your breath for 10 seconds. If this can be done without coughing, without difficulty, this shows that there is no fibrosis in the lungs, indicating the absence of infection. It is recommended to do this control every morning to help detect infection.
Avoid Chewing Hard Foods
Don’t crack any shells, bite or chew on hard foods. Don’t’ chew ice.
Try wearing your night guard every night or at any stressful times throughout the day. Wearing a night guard is mandated for patients with crown & bridges, implants & veneers, and patients that clench, brux or grind their teeth.
Clenching, bruxing and grinding will fracture teeth, roots and crowns, and can irreversibly damage teeth.