4 Tips for Keeping Your Mouth Healthy When You’re Sick

Colds and the flu have been less prevalent the past few years due to the coronavirus, but sometimes germs still find us and temporarily keep us under the weather. While these illnesses run their course, here are some easy ways to make sure your dental health doesn’t suffer:

  1. Choose sugar-free products  Sucking on sugared cough drops, rehydrating with electrolyte drinks, juice or tea with lemon and/or honey can all increase our risk for cavities. Water is the most tooth-friendly beverage and will help dilute acids after consuming products with sugar and/or acids. If you’re using other beverages, sweeteners such as stevia, sucralose and sugar alcohols (sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol) won’t put your teeth at risk.
  2. Stay hydrated  Decongestants and antihistamines in cold medications dry up not just a runny nose and watery eyes, but also our mouth. A dry mouth is uncomfortable and increases our risk for cavities as saliva protects our mouth from decay. Again, water or tea without sugar can provide needed fluids without dental side effects
  3. Rinse after vomiting  If you’ve got a stomach flu, the instinct can be to brush your teeth after throwing up. Avoid this, as stomach acid contacting teeth will weaken tooth enamel and the abrasion of toothpaste can ‘brush away’ tiny layers of it.  Instead, rinse with baking soda and water (1/2 t. in 1 c. water) to neutralize acid and brush an hour later.
  4. Clean or replace your toothbrush Even when you not feeling well, make sure to maintain your dental care routine. Caring for ourselves by brushing our teeth can often make us feel a bit better. Because damp toothbrushes can harbor bacteria, some powered brushes come with a built-in UV light disinfectant compartment. After brushing, store your brush in a dry area away from other airborne microbes. Toothbrushes should be replaced every 3-4 months, or when bristles start to get bent. If the brush is in good shape, running it though a kitchen dishwasher on a heated dry cycle will disinfect it.