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Surprising Flu Season Tips from Your Dentist

December 1, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — drstec @ 9:47 pm

Woman sick in bed.Cold and flu season can really affect your everyday life. Whether it’s sniffling, coughing, trouble breathing, headaches, and so much more, this time of year can cause annoying ailments. You may have your go-to at-home remedies and medicines, but did you know that these can actually affect your oral health negatively? Thankfully, your dentist has some simple cold and flu season tips you can use to make it through your sickness while taking care of your teeth!

Drying Decongestants

Decongestants do a great job of drying out your runny nose to stop annoying sniffling, but it can dry your mouth out too. Dry mouth promotes bacterial growth, which can increase your risk of dental issues like gum disease and decay.

Thankfully, your decongestant use should only be temporary. That means you can do things to keep your mouth hydrated while using the medicine, like drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum. This stimulates your saliva flow, which naturally washes away plaque and bacteria that can cause dental issues.

Coating Cough Drops and Throat Lozenges

You may turn to cough drops or lozenges for relief, but a lot of these products contain sugar. Because you’re sucking on them for long periods of time, the sugar gets in your saliva and coats your teeth. The longer this sugar clings to your smile, the better chance it has of turning into acid that causes decay.

Your best bet is to look for products that are sugar-free. There are a lot of substitutes for sugar now like xylitol, so you can still suck on something that tastes good without damaging your smile.

Sugary Syrups and Liquid Medicine

Just like cough drops, syrups and liquid medicines tend to contain sugar to make them taste better. These syrupy products automatically coat and cling to your teeth, which can dramatically increase your risk of cavities and tooth decay. Some of these medications also have alcohol, which can contribute to dry mouth.

In order to avoid these issues, you should try to choose pill or gel-cap versions of these products. However, if you have a go-to liquid medicine that you simply must take, just be sure to brush your teeth afterward to remove the sticky sugar.

Acidic Orange Juice

You may also turn to orange juice for its vitamin C—a classic immune system booster. However, OJ and other citric beverages contain high levels of acidity that can soften your tooth enamel.

To minimize your risk of this issue, drink water throughout the day and juice at mealtime. Water will wash away sugar and acid, and calcium in your food can help keep your enamel healthy to counteract some of the effects from the juice.

Now that you know some tips on how to keep your oral health in tip top shape while dealing with sickness, you can protect your teeth and cure your cough at the same time!

About the Practice

At STEC Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, we have a team of 3 highly-trained dentists who take pride in providing personalized dentistry to their patients in Grand Island. They believe that oral healthcare starts with patient education, which is why they want you to know how cold and flu sickness can affect your teeth. For any questions, they can be contacted through their website or by phone at (308) 382-4440.

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