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How to Care for Your Teeth When You Are Sick


Man brushing his teeth while being sick

When you’re feeling under the weather, you may not feel very motivated to bother with brushing and flossing.

But just like caring for the rest of your body, maintaining your dental health is even more important when you’re sick.

Why Oral Health Still Matters When You’re Sick

Even one day of skipping your oral hygiene leaves your teeth and gums at risk for bacterial infection. It takes less than a day for dental plaque germs to start wearing down tooth enamel and irritating gum tissue.

A bout of sickness may even put your oral health at increased risk for problems such as:

● Dry mouth ● Bad breath ● Acid exposure (such as from vomit) ● Gum inflammation ● Excess sugar exposure (in cough syrups and lozenges)

No matter how bad you feel, it’s important to keep up your routine of brushing and flossing.

Besides, keeping your mouth clean-tasting and your breath fresh can help boost your energy and get you back on your feet even sooner.

How to Maintain Good Oral Health During Illness

When you’re sick, your mouth has some unique needs that you should keep in mind.

Drink water. Hydration, for example, is very important. Illness, allergies, and medications can all cause your mouth to dry out. A lack of saliva leads to bacterial overgrowth which causes bad breath and cavities.

Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, even when you don’t feel like it. Water is necessary for soothing fevers and congestion and keeping your mouth comfortable.

You may enjoy sipping on sports drinks, soda, or sweet tea while you’re sick. But try to have water more than any other beverage. It’s better for your teeth and will keep you hydrated.

Rinse out. If you do enjoy some sweet drinks or take a sweet medication, make sure you carefully rinse out afterwards with water.

Are you suffering from a stomach problem that causes frequent vomiting? Rinse out with a mixture of water and baking soda to neutralize the acid. Stomach acid is very strong and can corrode tooth enamel if it’s not washed away.

Choose sugar-free. Whenever possible, opt for a sugar-free medication, food, or beverage while you’re sick. You probably sleep and rest a lot while you’re ill and this can mean that the remains of whatever you eat will stay on your teeth for hours at a time. If you eat as little sugar as possible, you’ll keep your mouth healthy even while you’re sick.

Change out your toothbrush. Unless you have a very weak immune system, you’re not likely to get reinfected by using the toothbrush you had when you were sick. But tossing the old brush will help keep those germs from spreading to other people around you.

Now may be a good time to get rid of your old toothbrush, anyway, if you’ve had your current one for a few months.

See a Tacoma family dentist. Granted, there’s no need to schedule a dental checkup after every sniffle or sneeze. But catching a cold may remind you that it’s time to get your oral health checked out.

A trip to the dentist will alert you to your dental health risks. That way, you can be prepared to take good care of your teeth the next time you’re feeling unwell.

Plan a visit to Duke Bui, DDS, PS - Family Dentistry to learn more about the importance of your smile’s health.

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