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Got the Flu? Oral Hygiene Tips for When You Get Sick

Posted by Inspire Smiles Dental on May 12 2019, 11:36 PM

Got the Flu? Oral Hygiene Tips for When You Get Sick

The weather may be improving, but it’s still influenza season, and even those who received a flu vaccine may still catch the flu. It’s not easy to stick to your oral hygiene routine when you’re sick, so we at Inspire Smiles Dental want to share our favorite easy-to-follow tips for taking care of your teeth.

When we get sick, our usual routines get tossed out the window. It’s just what happens when you feel terrible and spend several days in bed. Unfortunately, it only takes 48 hours for plaque to harden into insoluble calculus (tartar), which can only be removed with dental tools. Follow these easy tips to make sure a seasonal illness doesn’t lead to the start of a new cavity.

Do you need a Danville, CA dentist? Dr. Farhana Rassiwala provides cosmetic and general dentistry for your family’s oral health need! Visit our website to learn why Dr. Rassiwala’s patients enjoy being a member of the Inspire Smiles family! Call our office at 925-833-9500 for an appointment.

Watch What You Put in Your Mouth Just Before a Nap

You wouldn’t eat candy after brushing your teeth before bed, right? But when you are sick, you might easily fall asleep after taking a dose of sugar-filled cough syrup or sucking on a cough drop. This can be harmful to your teeth because our mouths naturally produce less saliva when we are sleeping. With less saliva to constantly rinse away food residue and neutralize bacteria, this makes you more vulnerable to tooth decay.

You may not feel like getting up to brush your teeth before a nap, but, at the very least, you can rinse your mouth with water after taking medicines or drinking sugary drinks. If you like sports drinks, ginger ale, or tea with honey when you are sick—make sure you also have some plain water on hand. Rinse your mouth after drinking sugary drinks and take lots of small sips of water to keep your mouth moist.

Non-Routine Oral Hygiene

When you are feverish and achy, you may feel like staying in bed all day and all night. If you don’t feel well enough to get out of bed, you certainly don’t feel good enough to get up just to brush and floss your teeth!

It can be tempting to rationalize that not eating means you don’t need to brush your teeth—but this kind of thinking is dangerous. Bacteria are still alive and thriving, even when you don’t any of your normal meals.

If you have someone helping you out, ask them to help you set up a bed-side oral hygiene station. Bring your toothbrush and floss, and a cup of water and a washcloth. If toothpaste makes you feel nauseous, useless (or none at all, if necessary). Even a dry brushing is better than no brushing. You can still remove a great deal of plaque and bacteria just by brushing and flossing. Be sure to swish and rinse your mouth with water when you are done.

Make Use of Your Bathroom Trips

You may not be able to follow your usual oral hygiene routines (brushing in the morning and at night) but you will still be taking trips to the bathroom when nature calls. Take advantage of any visit to the bathroom, and do a cursory brushing before you go back to bed. If you are sleeping a lot, who knows when you’ll make it to the sink again.

Water, Water, Water

Staying well hydrated is very important for fighting off illness. You may prefer to drink sugar-containing drinks, but you should keep plenty of plain water on-hand, as well. Cold and flu medications are notorious for causing dry mouth, so be mindful of whether any meds you are taking are causing your mouth to feel dry and sticky. Taking small sips of water will help you stay hydrated, and can keep your mouth feeling moist and well-lubricated. Chewing sugarless gum is a great way to stimulate the production of saliva, especially when you aren’t eating as often as usual.

Toss Your “Sick” Tooth Brush

While we’re talking about oral hygiene, you may want to throw away your old toothbrush, especially if it usually stored next to family members’ toothbrushes. Germs can travel farther than you may expect, especially in a wet environment. Chucking out your “sick” toothbrush may help prevent other family members from getting sick. (It’s always a good idea to throw away your toothbrush any time your doctor prescribes antibiotics, as bacterial infections can be re-acquired from one’s own toothbrush.)

For more tips and information on oral health, visit Danville, CA dentist Dr. Farhana Rassiwala. We provide routine preventive, restorative and cosmetic treatments to keep your family’s smiles healthy and beautiful. Call our office at 925-833-9500 for an appointment.

Need a Danville, CA dentist? Visit Inspire Smiles Dental for friendly, patient-centered care.  

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