Winter is officially here and so is cold and flu season. Being sick can mean that keeping up your brushing and flossing routine is actually even more important! If you are sick, you may even need to give your teeth some extra attention to make sure that they stay well even though you are sick. Let’s revisit few things that you need to keep in mind:
• Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth hydrated and try to keep your nasal passage clear. Colds and sickness often clog our noses and cause us to breath through our mouths, which dries out the mouth. A dry mouth is at an increased cavity risk because saliva is necessary to wash away food or drink particles and for remineralization.
• Avoid cough drops and cough syrups loaded with sugar. Sugar-free cough drops are better, and if you take cough syrup or liquid medicine that contains sugar, rinse well or brush after use. If you are unfortunate enough to have a stomach flu that causes vomiting, be sure to clean your teeth well since stomach acid can erode the enamel (people always want to freshen and clean their mouth after that anyway!)
• Replace your toothbrush following a cold or bought of illness. Although some studies have shown that re-infection is unlikely, toothbrushes have been shown to grow and harbor bacteria. Better safe than sorry!
• Disinfect your bit guard. If necessary, over-the counter bite guards can be replaced easily, but soaking bite guards or retainers that are meant to last for years in a strong antiseptic mouthwash for a while is a good idea. Do not use hot water on them as that may cause the plastic to soften and lose its shape. You can also contact our office to ask about ways we can help you disinfect retainers or bite guards with cold sterilization.
We always encourage our patients to reschedule if they are sick on the day of their appointment. It is best avoid exposing our office staff and other patients to infection, plus you will recover better by staying home and resting! We hope you stay well this winter and all year-round, but if you don’t, we hope you take good care of yourself and recover quickly. And to take care of your smile too!