Caring for your mouth while sick
Practise good hygiene
When you are sick, you know to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze… Donât forget to keep up your dental and toothbrush hygiene as well.
Choose sugar-free cough drops
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 leave holes in your teeth.
Rinse after vomiting
One unfortunate side effect of stomach flu, among other illnesses, is vomiting. You might be tempted to brush your teeth right away, but itâs actually better to wait. When you vomit, stomach acids are coming in contact with your teeth and coating them. If you brush too soon, youâre 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. Brush about 30 minutes later.
Stay hydrated to avoid dry mouth
When youâre sick, you need plenty of fluids for many reasons. One is to prevent dry mouth. Not only is it uncomfortable â 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 to keep that saliva flowing.
Choose the right fluids
When it comes to your mouth and your body, one beverage is always best. The safest thing to drink is water. Sports drinks might be recommended to replenish electrolytes when you are sick, but drink them in moderation and donât make them a habit after youâve 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 â like tea. Try not to add sugar or lemon if you can avoid it. Sugar will help to fuel cavity-causing bacteria, and lemon is acidic. Itâs something to keep in mind once youâre feeling 100 per cent again, as well.
Dr Keith John
Clinic: Heritage Dental