Teeth Tips for When You’re Sick

Winter in Winnipeg! A wonderful time, a time of skating down the River Trail, of Festival du Voyageur, of fancy dinners out in an impromptu restaurant on the winter. A time for staying indoors when it’s warm, a time for family, and a time for being sick with the cold and flu. One of those things was not like the other; being sick is definitely not a pleasant experience, but it does seem to come with the territory. When we’re ill, we think about how we might infect others, we think about our lungs and stomachs, but how often do we think about our mouths? Taking care of your mouth is especially important when you’re sick, so there are a few things to be mindful of.

You’ve heard that it’s important to drink plenty of fluids when your sick, to replace the fluids you’ve lost. This is important for your oral health, too; low fluids can mean a reduction in how much saliva you produce, and that can mean dry mouth. When your mouth is dry, you’re more prone to developing cavities. The medications you take when sick can also aggravate dry mouth, so there’s dual incentives to keep hydrated. Avoid sugary drinks if you can; plain old water is the way to go. When you’re opting for sports drinks to replenish electrolytes, try to find sugar-free versions; there are also a variety of other foods to help you replace electrolytes.

The idea of going sugar-free doesn’t just apply to your sports drinks. Cough drops are a nice way to alleviate coughing and sore throats, but they’re often loaded with sugar. As you can imagine, sucking on sugary, candylike lozenges is not exactly great for your teeth, and the problem is aggravated by the dry mouth you may have for all the reasons we mentioned above. Find sugar-free lozenges and you’ll be in sweet relief in no time.

The stomach flu brings a whole host of other problems for oral health; you’ll still need to replenish fluids, but one of the biggest concerns is the acidity vomiting brings to your mouth. The bile from your stomach brings an incredibly unpleasant taste to your mouth, and you might want to brush it off of your teeth, but that’s actually the wrong idea. When you brush your teeth after something acidic (and that includes after eating something acidic), you can actually accelerate the rate at which the acid affects your teeth, making you more prone to cavities. Opt to rinse and spit instead, and wait at least 20 minutes after vomiting to brush.

When possible, avoid going out in public too much when you’re sick, and that of course includes staying away from your Winnipeg dental office until you feel better.  That said, in the case of a dental emergency, don’t delay; simply inform the office of your illness and get help. Infections in the mouth can cause further, more drastic illness down the line, so be sure to treat serious problems right way.