Oral Self-Care When You’re Ill
When you’re sick, it’s easy to put your life on hold until you feel better. Even something as common as the cold. But there are a few things to consider when it comes to caring for your teeth and mouth when an illness sets in.
Here are some common sense self-care tips to get you on the mend:
1. Don’t share your toothbrush. Though it’s not recommended to share a toothbrush ever, it’s especially important to avoid this during times of illness as germs and the flu virus can live on moist surfaces for up to three days. Also, consider storing your toothbrush away from others in the household. If toothbrushes are kept in a shared holder, they may touch one another.
2. Use sugar-free cough drops. Did you know that many popular throat lozenges are packed full of sugar? As a cough drop is designed to last in your mouth for several minutes, that means that sugar can build up on your teeth. Opt for sugar-free cough drops and cough medicine in pill form versus liquid.
3. Stay hydrated. When your nose is stuffed and your throat is itchy, you may feel like your mouth is more dry than usual. Remember to drink water throughout the day to keep hydrated. While sports drinks may help replenish electrolytes, drink them in moderation since many contain large amounts of sugar and acid.
4. Rinse after vomiting. If you’re battling a stomach bug you might find yourself vomiting. It’s tempting to freshen your mouth by brushing teeth. But that can often spread the stomach acid around in your mouth. Instead, swish with a mixture of water and 1 tsp. baking soda. That can help neutrali[z]e the acid.
5. Replace your toothbrush. When you’re feeling better, start using a new toothbrush to get rid of unwanted germs that may linger around your old brush. Your old toothbrush can harbor bacteria and reinfect you. Remember, toothbrushes wear out, reducing their effectiveness. We recommend replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months regardless of your overall health.
To protect your teeth for the long run, remember to schedule routine checkups with us—when it’s possible.