Winter has arrived. Though that's a positive thing if you're a fan of snowballs and beautiful icicles, winter also brings with it something more sinister – flu season. When the flu hits, it's important to take care of yourself to ensure it does not do any more damage than necessary, and that includes taking care of your teeth. Follow these tips to ensure your bout of the flu does not sabotage your teeth.
Brush your teeth after vomiting.
While the flu does not generally cause nausea and vomiting directly (that's the stomach flu, though people often confuse the two) it can cause congestion, which can cause you to vomit if it drains into your stomach. Stomach contents are acidic, so when they come into contact with your teeth, they can cause enamel damage. For this reason, it's essential that you brush your teeth after you vomit.
Don't take liquid medicine right before bed.
Decongestants, cough syrup, and the like can make it easier to sleep when you have the flu. However, downing a dose of this directly before bed is a mistake. These liquid medications often contain sugar to make them taste better. If you take it right before bed, that sugar will sit on your teeth all night, feeding the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. If you use liquid medications while you're sick, take them a few minutes before bed, and then brush your teeth before hitting the hay.
Take it easy with the cough drops.
Sucking on a cough drop now and then is not a major concern, especially if you rinse your mouth out afterwards. However, constantly sucking on cough drops as many people do when they have the flu is not a good idea. That's a lot of sugar to be exposing your teeth to! Try to alternate sucking on cough drops with a safer throat soothing remedy – gargling salt water. Purchasing sugar-free cough drops is a good idea, too.
Wear a nasal strip when you go to bed.
If your nose is congested, you're likely to breathe through your mouth while sleeping. This dries out your mouth, making it a veritable breeding grounds for oral bacteria. Try placing a nasal strip over the bridge of your nose before going to sleep when you have the flu. This will help open your nasal passages so that you can breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
The flu will make you feel miserable, but at least with the tips above, it won't leave your teeth in poor shape, too. For more information about dental health during flu season, contact a dental office such as Howley & Basara Family Dentistry PC.