It’s Flu Season: How to Take Care of Your Teeth When You’re Sick

Oral hygiene during flu season

Remember to take care of your oral health when you’re sick.

Flu season is here, and we all know how the flu can wreak havoc on your body. But how do you stay on top of your oral health when you’re sick? While you’re soothing aches and pains with over-the-counter medication, resting your body, and eating soothing, easy-to-digest foods, we’ve put together some tips so you can also take care of your oral health while feeling sick. 

Drink lots of fluids while you’re sick.

It’s important to keep yourself hydrated, so remember to keep drinking the daily recommended 64 ounces of water a day, which is about eight cups. Some doctors may recommend you drink something with electrolytes in it, but be warned that those drinks may contain sugar, just like fruit juice does. To help keep your teeth in tip-top shape, be sure to drink some water right after you consume those drinks, or better yet, brush your teeth to keep the bacteria from sticking to your teeth.

What about dry mouth?

Dry mouth is a very common condition when people are sick, which is another reason why consuming fluids consistently is very important. Dry mouth can be caused by certain medications that you may be taking. Dry mouth is a problem for your teeth because the lack of saliva production can allow bacteria growth and lead to cavities, as well as causing irritation and inflammation to your gums. Saliva is key in helping to break down the bacteria in your mouth and keeping plaque from forming on your teeth.

What if I’m vomiting?

If you are vomiting while sick with the flu, your instinct may be to immediately brush your teeth after. Dentists advise against this because the enamel on your teeth is more sensitive after you have vomited. Instead, rinse your mouth out with water immediately after, then you can follow up with brushing your teeth a little bit later.

Choose sugar-free cough drops.

If you have a sore throat or persistent cough, reaching for a cough drop might seem like a quick cure. But did you know most cough drops contain sugar? Sugar breaks down and can stick to your teeth, causing plaque buildup, which can then destroy the enamel on your teeth. If you do need a cough drop, look for ones that are sugar free, and don’t forget to brush your teeth after.

Can my sinus infection cause a toothache?

One of the symptoms of the flu is a sinus infection, and the pressure can be very painful for some people. If you have a sinus infection, your sinuses can become inflamed. Your upper back teeth are located just under your sinuses and, sometimes, the roots of those teeth can run along the sinuses. When the sinuses become inflamed, the pressure can be felt on your teeth, creating a toothache. 

Usually, an over-the-counter medication or one prescribed by your doctor can help relieve the pain. However, if you are concerned, make an appointment to see The Tooth Doc to ensure that it is just the sinus infection causing you pain and not any other issue.

Don’t spread your germs.

If you are sick, it is important to stay home to mitigate the risk of others getting sick. Remember to wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth when you cough. If you need to go out, wear a mask and keep your distance, when possible, from other people to help stop the spread of germs.

Throw out your toothbrush.

Did you know that the flu virus can live for up to 72 hours on surfaces like your toothbrush? That is why it is important to throw out your toothbrush when you are sick. You don’t want to reinfect yourself, or pass those flu germs to anyone else in your household.

Continue with your daily oral care routine.

It’s so important to continue with your daily oral care routine of brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Don’t forget to use a mouthwash to help combat bacteria that is living in your mouth. And when you are feeling better, continue with your twice annual dental evaluations at The Tooth Doc. We can’t wait to see you when you are feeling better, so if you need to reschedule, we understand! Just give a call and we’ll be happy to see you once you are feeling better.