Cold and rainy weather are signs that the winter season is near. The winter season is also the time of the year for colds and the flu. Everyone is at risk for the common cold or the flu as it is very easily spread to others.

When you have a cold or the flu, taking care of your health and body is a top priority. Caring for your oral hygiene may not be at the top of your list, however, your oral health can also be impacted when you are sick. For instance, having a cold or the flu can increase the risk of dry mouth and cavities. Here are some tips from the American Dental Association (ADA) to help you care for your oral health when feeling under the weather and help you feel your best during this time.

Practice daily oral hygiene

Daily oral hygiene may not cure your cold or flu, but it can reduce germs and cavity-causing bacteria from building up in your mouth when you are sick. Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Also, brushing your tongue is just as important, as it can harbor many bacteria that can spread to your teeth and gums. Floss at least once a day. If possible, use an oral rinse. Do not forget to replace your toothbrush after you have recovered from being sick! Maintaining good oral hygiene will help keep your mouth feeling cleaner and will help you have fresher breath.

Stay hydrated to avoid dry mouth

Remember, your body needs extra hydration when you are trying to get well. This also helps to prevent dry mouth. This is a condition in which the salivary glands in your mouth do not make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Saliva neutralizes acids in the mouth to help protect tooth enamel and reduce tooth decay. The medications you may be taking for a cold or the flu, such as antihistamines, decongestants or pain relievers may cause dry mouth. It is best to drink plenty of water to keep your saliva flowing.

Choose the right fluids

When it comes to staying hydrated, water is the best choice for your health and oral health. Sports drinks may be recommended to replenish electrolytes when you are sick, but it is best to drink them in moderation, as they contain added sugar. You may also want something to warm you up or comfort you during a cold, such as tea. Although tea is a good option, try to avoid adding sugar or lemon. Sugar can help fuel the cavity-causing bacteria and lemon is an acidic food – which can wear away your tooth enamel.

Rinse your mouth before brushing

A side effect from the flu is that it may cause vomiting. In the case that you experience vomiting, stomach acids will come in contact with your mouth and teeth. You may be tempted to brush your teeth right after vomiting, but it is best to wait. Brushing too soon can harm your tooth enamel.  it is recommended to rinse your mouth with a glass of water mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda to neutralize the acids in your mouth. Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing.

Choose sugar-free cough drops

Many cough drops contain sugar, which promotes cavities. The longer you keep a sugary cough drop in your mouth, the more time the cavity-causing bacteria have to feast on that sugar, which increases the risk for cavities. If possible, choose sugar-free cough drops.

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