How To Maintain Good Oral Hygiene When You’re Sick

When you have a cold or the flu, it may be difficult to get out of bed to brush and floss your teeth. However, maintaining good hygiene when you're sick can actually make you feel better. When your mouth feels clean and healthy, you might feel as though you are recovering faster from your illness. While it is important to maintain a good oral health routine all the time, it is especially important to do so when you're feeling under the weather. Here are some ways to take care of your teeth and gums when you're sick.

Avoid Sugary Cough Drops

If you have a scratchy throat or a nagging cough, you may find yourself reaching for your cough drops multiple times a day. Many brands of cough drops and throat lozenges contain as much sugar as hard candy does.

When you suck on sugary cough drops all day, you raise your risk for developing cavities because oral bacteria feeds off sugar. Be sure to read the label on your cough drops, and if you notice that they contain corn syrup or fructose, you might want to pass on them. Instead, look for sugar-free cough drops to help get you through your illness. It is important to note that while sugar-free cough drops that contain artificial sweeteners may be better for your teeth, consuming too many may cause bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. 

Stay Hydrated

It is important to drink plenty of water when you're sick. If you have a cold, you may experience nasal congestion. Because of this, breathing through your nose may be difficult, causing you to breathe through your mouth. In addition, a cold or flu may cause a fever which can lead to dehydration.

Mouth breathing and fevers can cause dry mouth, which, in addition to being uncomfortable, can raise your risk for developing cavities. The medications you take for your cold, such as decongestants or antihistamines, may also contribute to oral dryness. If your mouth gets too dry when you're sick, drink water even if you don't feel thirsty. If you are unable to keep fluids down because of gastrointestinal upset, suck on a piece of sugarless hard candy to help promote salivary flow. 

To learn more about effective oral hygiene practices when you're sick, talk to your dental services professional such as your dentist or hygienist. Also, if you develop red or white sores or ulcers in your mouth or bleeding gums, see your dentist, because these signs may be related to complications from your infection.