It’s that time of year again – cold and flu season is upon us! Unfortunately, even when you take steps to prevent it, you can still get sick and wind up spending days in bed recovering. And although you’re probably not thinking about your teeth, all the cough syrup, decongestants and other remedies you’re taking can really put your teeth at risk for cavities. Keep reading below for flu season tips from a dentist to help you feel better and protect your teeth at the same time!
Not only is cough syrup sticky, but it contains both sugar and alcohol. These ingredients lead to dry mouth, which increases the risk of cavities. If you can, opt for gel-caps instead.
Cough Drops and Lozenges
Traditional cough drops and lozenges contain sugar, but in recent years, sugar-free options have become available.
Sugar-free cough drops are a much better choice because you use so many of them when you’re sick, and the kind that contain sugar are just as harmful as hard candy!
Decongestants not only dry out your sinuses, but your mouth as well. Since saliva washes away plaque and neutralizes the acids that cause cavities, dry mouth significantly increases your risk of tooth decay.
Drinking a lot of water and chewing sugar-free gum will help counteract these effects.
Orange juice contains both acid and sugar, and both of them together can really damage your teeth – especially if you’re drinking a lot of it throughout the day.
If you want to drink orange juice for vitamin C, try to consume it in a short, 10-15 minute period instead of sipping on it all day. It’s also a good idea to rinse with water several times afterward.
Additional Tips For Protecting Your Teeth
- Drink Lots of Water – Staying hydrated is crucial when you’re sick, but try to drink mostly water instead of sugary beverages.
- Chew sugar-free gum – Sugar-free gum is a convenient way to protect your teeth because it stimulates salivary flow and counteracts the effects of sugar from juice or cough drops (if you don’t have sugar-free cough drops on hand).
- Try To Stay Consistent With Brushing and Flossing – You may not be able to be perfect with brushing and flossing when you’re sick, but do the best you can. It’s also helpful to swish with a fluoride (anti-cavity) mouthwash once or twice a day.
- Schedule a Checkup – When you feel better, schedule a checkup with a dentist to make sure everything is healthy.
Sometimes you get sick no matter what you do. But you can use these tips to get better while still staying cavity-free!
About the Author
Dr. Chris Long is an award-winning general dentist with 15 years of experience. Especially during the winter months, he always gives his patients flu season tips to help them stay healthy overall and also maintain great oral health. If you have any other questions about staying healthy this winter, he can be reached through his website or at (972) 775-3192.