Caring for Your Oral Health When You Get Sick

It’s easy to slack on your oral health when you’re not feeling well. However, it’s important to maintain a stringent oral health routine regardless of your ailments. Regular brushing and flossing help minimize dangerous bacteria in the mouth and cuts down on the amount of plaque and tartar buildup. Proper oral health practices also lower your risk of developing dental conditions like tooth decay and gum disease. As we head into cold and flu season, and while still fighting the unprecedented coronavirus, consider the best ways to care for your oral health when you get sick.

Brush at Least Twice a Day – Or More Often

It can be tough to drag yourself to the bathroom to brush your teeth when your energy has been depleted. It can be tempting to simply wait until you’re feeling better to return to a normal brushing routine. However, this is never a good idea. Even if you have to push yourself to get out of bed, try to brush your teeth at least twice a day.

Make an effort to brush more frequently than twice a day if you are experiencing vomiting. The fluids in your stomach are extremely acidic and when you vomit, these gastric acids must go through the mouth where they encounter the teeth. If you are vomiting frequently, these acids can encourage enamel decay. After vomiting, rinse your mouth with an alkaline solution of water and baking soda to neutralize the acids. You can then brush your teeth normally.

Avoid Over-the-Counter Drugs Containing Sugar

Today, there are many over-the-counter cough drops, liquid cold medicines, and other drugs that are artificially flavored to taste better. Unfortunately, these medications often contain high amounts of sugars which can contribute to plaque buildup and can increase your risk of tooth decay. Cough drops containing sugar are the worst culprits as they dissolve slowly which significantly lengthens the teeth’s exposure to sugar.

When shopping for over-the-counter medications, look for options that are sugar-free to protect the teeth. Today, there are also many herbal medications on the market that contain all-natural ingredients that will not generally harm teeth. Herbal medicines can be found in capsule, tablet, powder, or extract form for convenience. If you do take a medication containing sugar, be sure to brush after to remove the sugars from your teeth.

Avoid Dehydration by Drinking Plenty of Water

Dehydration can wreak havoc inside your mouth. When you don’t get enough fluids, your mouth becomes dry and food particles remain stuck to your teeth. Dry mouth creates the perfect environment for bacteria growth which drastically increases your susceptibility to tooth decay and gum disease. Drinking plenty of water helps to increase saliva production which allows harmful bacteria and food particles to be washed away before they do damage.

Isolate Your Toothbrush and Discard It When Your Better

Each time you brush your teeth, the bristles of your toothbrush collect saliva, bacteria, and sometimes even blood. This is why it’s important to switch out your toothbrush for a new one about every three months. However, when you are sick, it’s important to replace your toothbrush more frequently.

During your illness, you will also want to isolate your toothbrush to avoid contaminating other people’s toothbrushes in your home. Once you are feeling better, throw away your toothbrush and start using a fresh one. Remember, the flu virus can stay alive on moist surfaces for up to 72 hours which means you could become reinfected if you continue using the same toothbrush.

Schedule a Visit with Dr. Tiffany Shields, Jacksonville, Florida

When you get sick, taking care of your body is of the utmost importance. This includes caring for your oral health. There is a direct connection between the mouth and the rest of the body. When bacteria builds up on the teeth, the gums become more prone to infection. When the immune system fights back to stop the infection, the gums can become inflamed, resulting in periodontitis or ‘gum disease’.

Once you have recovered from your illness, schedule an appointment to see your dentist. Jacksonville, FL dentist, Dr. Tiffany Shields, provides compassionate dental care for good oral health and total body care. Request an appointment today at Smiles by Shields Dentistry by giving us a call at 904.731.0777 or by contacting us here on our website.


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Smiles by Shields
3940 San Jose Park Dr.
Jacksonville, FL 32217