Being sick is the pits. And while cold and flu season is here, at least there are plenty of over-the-counter medications available to help you recover as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, however, there are many cold and flu remedies that can harm your teeth and significantly increase your risk of cavities. And the last thing you want to deal with after being sick is an unexpected toothache or dental work! Keep reading below to find out how to recover from a cold or flu without winding up in the dental chair.
Cold and Flu Remedies That Can Harm Your Teeth
- Decongestants – Although they’re made to dry out your sinuses, decongestants also dry out your mouth as well. Less salivary flow means you’re at greater risk for cavities because plaque, sugars, and acids adhere to your teeth instead of being washed away.
- Cough drops and lozenges – Frequently using cough drops and lozenges that contain sugar is just as detrimental as sucking on hard candy throughout the day. Look for a sugar-free option instead.
- Cough syrup – Cough syrup is harmful for several reasons. It not only contains both sugar and alcohol but also sticks to your teeth. If possible, use gel-caps instead of liquid.
- Orange juice – Although orange juice has a lot of vitamin C, it also contains a lot of acid and sugar, both of which erode your enamel and increase your risk of tooth decay.
How To Maintain Your Oral Health During Cold and Flu Season
You can still use the remedies listed above to get relief from a cold or flu. But it’s helpful to take a few precautions to minimize any harm to your teeth. First, drink a lot of plain water throughout the day. This will rinse away any residue from cough syrup or orange juice and also hydrate you. If you’re experiencing dry mouth, chewing sugar-free gum is a great way to stimulate salivary flow for natural cavity prevention.
And even though brushing and flossing may be the last thing on your mind, try your best to do it anyway. It’s also helpful to use a fluoride mouthwash a couple of times a day to strengthen your enamel and prevent decay.
Finally, after you’ve recovered, schedule a checkup and cleaning with a dentist. They’ll do a thorough exam and make sure your teeth and gums are healthy, and a professional cleaning will help your teeth look and feel their best.
When you’re sick, the only thing you want is to feel better soon. With these tips, you’ll be able to recover fast and protect your smile at the same time.
About the Author
Dr. Robert Long is a native of the Cleburne area and has been a dentist for over 25 years. He understands the surprising oral health risks of various medications and always makes an effort to educate his patients to help them prevent cavities. If you have any questions about flu remedies that can harm your teeth, you can reach Dr. Long via his website.