Cold and Flu Season and Oral Health

HAVING YOUR KIDS COMING DOWN WITH the flu is never any fun, but it’s still no time to let up on their oral hygiene routine. The same applies if your children get a cold. With flu and cold season upon us, we thought this was a good time to share some tips for maintaining good oral health through one of these common illnesses.

Brushing and Flossing Can Help You Feel Better

Even if your kids are sick (and maybe a little grumpy), try to remember to have your kids brush and floss as usual. It’s not just about the comfort of maintaining some part of a normal routine, or about getting some small sense of accomplishment out of it — no, brushing and flossing can actually make your children feel better!

Keeping their mouth as clean as possible is a real boost to their overall sense of well-being. A clean mouth helps them feel rejuvenated and refreshed, so don’t let the simple habits of brushing and flossing fall by the wayside while your kids are sick. Getting rid of oral bacteria can only help while fighting a cold or the flu!

A Stuffy Nose Leads to Dry Mouth

If your kids can’t breathe out of their noses because of congestion, then obviously their only option is to breathe through their mouths. That’s never great for oral health, because it tends to dry things out. We need our saliva to fend off bacteria and wash away food debris, and dry mouth significantly increases the risk of tooth decay.

Sometimes the medicine taken to help with a cold or the flu (such as antihistamines, pain relievers, and decongestants) can actually make the dry mouth situation worse. Keep this in mind and make sure your kids drink plenty of water and, when possible, encourage them to breathe through their noses.

Congestion and Bad Breath

Have you ever noticed a snotty taste when you have a cold? Well, it can also be a smell, in the form of bad breath. This happens because of post nasal drip, or excess mucus leaking down the back of the throat. It’s easy for bacteria to multiply in this situation, which leads to unpleasant smells — yet another reason why brushing and flossing are just as important when we’re sick!

Cut Down on Sugar

The bad bacteria in our mouths love when we eat sugar, even when it comes in the form of a cough drop. Sucking on a sugary cough drop is just as bad for our teeth as sucking on a hard candy, which is why it’s a good idea to choose a sugar free cough drop for throat-soothing needs.

Rehydrate with Water

We tend to give our kids beverages like orange juice, sports drinks, or sweetened tea when they are sick. If we do, we should remember to have them rinse with water afterward to wash away any leftover sugar, but they should really be drinking water more than anything else. It will make up for the fluids lost due to flu or cold symptoms, and particularly if it’s the stomach flu, it helps to protect the teeth from the damaging effects of stomach acid from frequent vomiting.

Have Questions About Oral Health?

If there’s anything else you’d like to know about the relationship between oral health and common illnesses like colds or the flu, just give us a call! We want all of our patient families to have the tools they need to stay as healthy as possible in addition to specifically having good oral health.

Feel better soon!

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