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5 Ways to Care for Your Mouth When You’re Sick

When you have a cold or the flu, taking care of your body is your top priority and that includes your mouth. 

Here are some simple ways to care for your dental health when you’re not feeling well: 

Practice Good Hygiene

When you’re sick, you know to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. Don’t forget to keep up your dental and toothbrush hygiene as well.

According to the Center for Chronic Disease, the flu virus can live on moist surfaces for 72 hours. The number one rule is not to share your toothbrush anytime, especially when you are sick.

You also probably don’t need to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick. Unless your immune system is severely compromised, the chances of reinfecting yourself are very low. But if you’re still in doubt, throw it out. Especially if you’ve had your toothbrush for 3-4 months then it’s time to replace it anyway.

Choose Sugar-Free Cough Drops

Read the label before you pick up a bag at the drugstore intending to avoid ingredients like fructose or corn syrup. Many cough drops contain sugar, and it is like sucking on candy. Sugar is a culprit when it comes to cavities. The longer you keep a sugary cough drop in your mouth, the more time cavity-causing bacteria has to feast on that sugar, which produces the acid that can weaken tooth enamel and cause cavities and decay.

Swish and Spit After Vomiting

One unfortunate side effect of the stomach flu, among other illnesses, is vomiting. You might be tempted to brush your teeth right away, but it’s better to wait. When you vomit, stomach acids are coming in contact with your teeth and coating them. If you brush too soon, you’re just rubbing that acid all over the hard outer shell of your teeth.

Instead, swish with water, a diluted mouth rinse or a mixture of water and 1 tsp. baking soda to help wash the acid away. Spit, and brush about 30 minutes later.

Stay Hydrated to Avoid Dry Mouth

When you’re sick, you need plenty of fluids for many reasons. One is to prevent dry mouth. Not only is it uncomfortable, but dry mouth can also put you at greater risk for cavities. The medications you might be taking for a cold or flu, such as antihistamines, decongestants or pain relievers can also dry out your mouth, so drink plenty of water and suck on sugarless cough drops, throat lozenges or candies to keep that saliva flowing.

Choose the Right Fluids

The safest thing to drink is water. Sports drinks might be recommended to replenish electrolytes when you’re sick, but drink them in moderation and don’t make them a habit after you’ve recovered because unless they are a sugar-free version, they contain a lot of sugar. You might also want something to warm you up. When you have a cold or the flu, you may want something comforting to get through it, like tea. Try not to add sugar or lemon. Sugar can help to fuel cavity-causing bacteria, and lemon is acidic. It’s something to keep in mind once you’re feeling a 100% again, as well.

Dental Tips During Pregnancy

Did you know that a baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of pregnancy? That’s why making smart food choices early in pregnancy can help set your child up for healthy teeth throughout their lives. During your pregnancy, a sufficient quantity of nutrients especially vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorus are needed.

To assist you in making healthy eating choices, the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Policy Center have compiled this list of tips to follow during pregnancy:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain products such as cereals, bread and dairy products like milk, cheese, cottage cheese or unsweetened yogurt.
  • Eat fewer foods high in sugar, including candy, cookies, cake, and dried fruit and drink fewer beverages high in sugar including juice, fruit-flavored drinks, soft drinks.
  • For snacks, choose foods low in sugar such as fruits, vegetables, cheese, and unsweetened yogurt.
  • Read food labels so you can choose foods lower in sugar.
  • If you have trouble with nausea, try eating small amounts of healthy foods throughout the day.
  • Drink water or milk instead of juice, fruit-flavored drinks or soft drinks.
  • Drink water throughout the day, especially between meals and snacks. Drink fluoridated water (via a community fluoridated water source) or if you prefer bottled water, drink water that contains fluoride.
  • To reduce the risk of birth defects, get 600 micrograms of folic acid each day throughout your pregnancy. Take a dietary supplement of folic acid and eat foods high in folate and foods fortified with folic acid, including:
    • Asparagus, broccoli and leafy green vegetables such as lettuce and spinach
    • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
    • Papaya, tomato juice, oranges or orange juice, strawberries, cantaloupe and bananas
    • Grain products fortified with folic acid (bread, cereals, cornmeal, flour, pasta, white rice.)

6 Tips for Cavity-Free Holidays

Timing matters

Saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and also helps rinse away food particles. If you like sweets and other sugary foods, eat them with meals or shortly after mealtime.

Be picky if it’s sticky

When it comes to picking healthy snacks, many people put dried fruit at the top of the list. But many dried fruits are sticky and sticky foods tend to stay on the teeth longer than other types of food. If you find yourself eating a lot of dried fruits such as cranberries or raisins, make sure to rinse your mouth with water and brush carefully.

Limit your alcohol intake

Try to drink a lot of water alongside your alcoholic drinks. And remember: Too much alcohol can dry out your mouth.

Take it easy on the hard candies

Some candies are more problematic than others. Hard candies can put your teeth at risk because, in addition to being full of sugar, they are also known to cause broken or chipped teeth. (Be careful not to break or chip your teeth when eating nuts as well!)

Watch out for starchy foods

These are sneaky because they often get trapped in your teeth. If you choose to indulge in chips and cakes, take extra care when you floss that day to remove all the food particles that can lead to plaque build-up.

You can still have fun

So, what can you eat? Lots of stuff! Prioritize lean protein, such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish. Make sure to vary your diet. Eat whole grains and choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. The holidays are a great time of year to start thinking about healthy habits. If you do snack, make it a nutritious choice such as cheese, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables for your overall health and the health of your teeth.

Dental Symptoms

Toothache

If your mouth or jaw hurt, it could from a toothache. Toothaches sometimes indicate a cavity but they can also signal gum disease. In some cases, an ache may be a sign of an abscess or impacted tooth. Do not wait for a toothache to get better on its own, it should be evaluated by a dentist quickly to find out the cause of the problem and prevent the problem from getting worse.

Sensitive Teeth

If your teeth hurt after you drink hot or cold beverages, you may have sensitive teeth. This can be the result of tooth decay, fractured teeth, worn fillings, gum disease, worn tooth enamel or an exposed tooth root due to gum recession. Treatment will depend on the cause of sensitivity. If you’re concerned regarding the sensitivity of your teeth, see your dentist for diagnosis and treatment options.

Bleeding or Sore Gums

Bleeding or sore gums may be a symptom of gingivitis, an early and reversible stage of gum disease or just the results of brushing too hard or beginning a new flossing routine. If your gums bleed regularly or enough to worry you, make an appointment with your dentist or physician, it could be a sign that something else is wrong.

Mouth Sores

Types of mouth sores include canker sores, cold sores, leukoplakia, and moniliasis. Each of these types of sores vary in their severity, and can indicate different types of dental issues. Mouth sores can be a symptom of a disease or disorder, infections from bacteria, viruses or fungus, irritation caused by braces, dentures or the sharp edges of a broken tooth or filling. Your dentist should examine any mouth sore that lasts a week or longer.

Bad Breath

Bad breath can be caused by what you eat, not cleaning your mouth, dry mouth, smoking or other medical conditions. Persistent bad breath may be a warning sign of gum disease. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily are essential to reducing bad breath and preventing gum disease. Brushing your tongue will help too. If you’re concerned regarding the cause of your bad breath, see your dentist. They can determine the cause and treatment plan.

Dry Mouth

If you have dry mouth it may be a symptom of a medical disorder or a side effect of certain medications. Saliva is the mouth’s primary defense against tooth decay. It washes away food and other debris, neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and provides disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. Your dentist can recommend ways to restore moisture.

Oral Piercing Infection

Oral piercings can produce a wide range of issues for your health, oral and otherwise. Your mouth is home to very large amounts of bacteria, creating an ideal place for an infection to start. If you’ve got any signs of infection, swelling, pain, fever, chills, shaking or a red-streaked appearance around the site of the piercing, contact your dentist or physician immediately.

Cracked or Broken Teeth
A cracked or broken tooth can happen for a variety of reasons—brittle teeth, teeth grinding, or acute tooth injury like a sports accident. The crack could be invisible to the naked eye and even X-ray, but they will be incredibly painful and can cause bigger problems if left untreated. If you experience pain when chewing, see your dentist. They can diagnose the cause and develop a plan for treatment.

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