Five Ways to Care For Your Teeth When You’re Sick

The “tripledemic” we’ve been reading about in recent weeks describes the impact of three big viruses at this writing, RSV, COVID-19 and the flu. At the Pennsylvania Center for Dental Implants and Periodontics, we hope our patients and their families can avoid these illnesses in 2023, and always. But if you do get sick, here are five easy tips to help you protect your teeth and gums when you’re under the weather.

#1 Hydrating

Mouth breathing due to stuffed up noses means less saliva in the mouth. Certain antihistamines, nasal decongestants and even pain relievers can also contribute to dry mouth. Hydrating becomes even more important, to loosen mucous and add saliva which helps wash away food and lower your risk of tooth decay.

Regular water is always the best. It has a neutral pH balance which helps reduce the mouth acid that can harm teeth. Sugary drinks count as “fluids” and help with congestion but can lead to cavities.

#2 Dealing With Coughs

Sucking on cough drops might seem like a quick fix when you have a tickle in your throat. What should you use? Chronic use of regular cough drops can increase sugar intake – they are pretty much candy. And sugar-free cough drops contain chemicals that make them seem sweet. Herbal cough drops are often sweetened with honey, which can cause cavities. Consider drinking more water, taking suppressants or decongestants, and sipping other warm beverages. If you have to pop a cough drop, don’t forget to keep up your brushing routine. And don’t forget to talk to your doctor about long-lasting coughs, deep coughs, bloody mucus, fever, chills, wheezing, shortness of breath or other symptoms that don’t seem to go away.

#3 Brushing After Vomiting

Bouts of nausea can be devastating. If you do get sick to your stomach, rinse your teeth with water but avoid brushing right away. The contents of your stomach include acids that can temporarily make your teeth vulnerable. Better to rinse your mouth with water and wait about half an hour before brushing.

#4 Maintaining Daily Oral Maintenance

When you’re under the weather, brushing and flossing may seem like arduous chores. But these routine, home dental maintenance tasks can help you feel more normal, in addition to helping you keep up important good oral health practices.

#5 Time for a New Toothbrush?

According to the CDC, the flu virus can live on objects (like your toothbrush!) for up to 48 hours. Keep that in mind and store your toothbrush away from those of the rest of the family. Your toothbrush can even start to take in bacteria if used too long. If your toothbrush is 3-4 months old, it’s probably time to consider a replacement.

Once you’re feeling better, don’t forget to schedule periodontal hygiene appointments with us here at Pennsylvania Center for Dental Implants and Periodontics. We want you—and your teeth—to be great in 2023!