I feel like every time I sign into Facebook over the past few weeks, another friend has come down with the flu. Even in my own household, two out of three of us have been knocked down over the past two weeks by the flu. Since we’re in the height of flu season, I think it’s time to go over some basic yet necessary steps if the flu or cold hits your house.
- Drink plenty of fluids: The last thing you feel like doing when the flu hits is to pump yourself full of liquids. Heck, it takes all I can just to lift my head off of my pillow when I’m sick. But not only will drinking fluids help you to overcome your illness quicker, it will also help you to avoid dental issues like dry mouth. Dry mouth can cause cavities since the saliva that washes away the cavity causing bacteria isn’t present. Stick to water, teas, and even soup to stay hydrated this flu and cold season.
- Gargle with salt water: If you’re suffering with a bad sore throat, try gargling with warm salt water. It will soothe your throat and give you some relief from the constant soreness that comes with the flu and cold. In addition, gargling with warm salt water will help everything from preventing bacteria, bad breath, and gingivitis. The best way to make your own salt water is to get a glass of water and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and mix together. If you have sea salt on hand, even better! The best part of this? It’s cheap and requires very minimal thought and effort when you’re home trying to recover.
- Go sugar-free: We all know how bad sugar is for our teeth on a normal day, right? It’s even worse when we’re struck down by illness. Because our dental hygiene tends to be pushed to the side when we’re sick, it’s even more important to make sure we refrain from any type of sugar hitting our mouths during this time. I know you’re probably thinking, “I can barely lift my head off of the pillow, why in the world would I be sitting in bed eating candy?” Remember that cough syrup you just downed to stop all of the hacking long enough to fall asleep? Or the cough drops you’ve been popping all day to get some relief? Some of those are full of sugar. Instead, try to be conscious about which medicines and cough drops you’re choosing and whenever possible, choose the sugar-free versions to keep your mouth healthy while still taking care of your cough.
- Brush your teeth: As hard as it is, try to stick as closely to your daily hygiene routine as possible. I know this may be hard to believe, but something as simple as getting out of the bed and making it to the bathroom long enough to brush your teeth could give your body the boost it needs. When your mouth is clean, you tend to feel better about yourself so why not give it a try? Even if it takes every last bit of energy you have, it will be worth it if it boosts your self-esteem and energy even just a tiny bit afterwards.
- Replace your toothbrush: By all means, once you’re sick you can continue to use your current toothbrush. But once you’ve fully recovered, it’s time to throw that one out and replace it with a new one. The old toothbrush will hold onto and contain bacteria and germs from when you were sick which can cause you to reinfect yourself and become sick again.
We hope that none of our patients come into contact with the flu or cold this season but if you do, please use these tips to help you feel better and keep your mouth healthy during this season. If you need to get a replacement toothbrush before your next appointment, or have any questions about the flu/cold and your oral health, please call our office: Charmoy Dental Associates at (973)584-0008. We wish you a healthy season ahead!