Cold and flu season is here again…ugh. When you’re dealing with a runny nose, sore throat, and sleepless nights, the only thing you want is to feel better as soon as possible. Unfortunately, however, many common cold remedies can put your oral health at risk. And the last thing you want after the cold or flu is to see a dentist for major dental work! Keep reading for 5 easy tips you can use to fight off a cold or flu bug without harming your smile.
1. Try To Stay Consistent With Brushing and Flossing
Brushing and flossing is often at the bottom of your priority list when you’re sick. But keep in mind that something is always better than nothing. Even if you can only muster the energy to brush once a day, your teeth and gums will thank you. It’s also helpful to swish with fluoride (anti-cavity) mouthwash once or twice a day. It certainly doesn’t replace brushing and flossing, but it will keep your enamel strong and prevent tooth decay.
2. Minimize Juice and Other Sugary Beverages
Orange juice and sports drinks may have vitamin C and electrolytes, but there are healthier options. Sugar-free vitamin C supplements or sports drinks or simply adding a pinch of sea salt to plain water are all good examples. It’s also helpful to drink plenty of tea or plain water to stay hydrated without increasing the risk of cavities.
3. Stick To Sugar-Free Lozenges
In addition to sugar-free beverages, it’s also very important to choose sugar-free cough syrup, drops, or lozenges. Especially since you may be going through quite a few of them! When these products contain sugar, they essentially act the same as hard candy, which is a recipe for getting major cavities.
4. Use Saltwater For a Sore Throat
Saltwater is a wonderful way to kill bacteria and viruses and soothe the tissues in your throat. It’s also incredibly cheap and convenient because chances are that you already have it on hand. To use, just add about a ½ teaspoon of salt to a glass of lukewarm water. After it’s dissolved, gargle for about 30 seconds and repeat every few hours. This can actually reduce the length and severity of cold and flu symptoms, and the sooner you do it after getting sick, the better.
5. Once You’ve Recovered, Schedule a Checkup and Cleaning
Once you’re feeling better, be sure to schedule a checkup and cleaning with a dentist. If cavities or other issues have developed, they’ll be found early on, before they start causing pain. This is also when treatment is easier and less expensive, so it’s a win-win.
Recovering from the cold or flu doesn’t mean you have to put your oral health at risk. With these 5 tips, you’ll feel better fast and maintain a healthy smile, too!
About the Author
Dr. Rajiv Shekhadiya is a family dentist and a graduate of The New York University College of Dentistry. He’s dedicated to helping his patients achieve good oral and overall health throughout the year and always provides timely tips during cold and flu season. If you want to know more about maintaining your smile this winter or have any questions, he can be reached via his website.