When you aren’t feeling well and you want nothing more than to just sleep until you’re all better, the last thing that you’re probably thinking about is getting out of bed and brushing your teeth. Unfortunately, that could mean that your oral health takes an unexpected hit. So, to keep yourself on track, especially if you’ve been working hard to keep your teeth and gums strong, check out the tips below for keeping your teeth and mouth clean while you’re sick.
It might be challenging, especially when you’re really sick with the flu, but brushing your teeth every day will help keep your mouth clean, and it might even help you feel a bit more refreshed. Even if you can’t manage to brush your teeth twice a day, aim to brush at least once a day. Or you might try to just brush after you eat so that you can remove food particles that would otherwise remain in your mouth while you get some extra rest.
To remain on course with your flossing routine, consider keeping some floss on your nightstand so that you can reach over and clean in between your teeth even if you’re too tired to get out of bed. Hey, we know it sounds a little weird, but it’s better than not flossing at all, right?
If you are way too fatigued to brush your teeth and/or floss, try to at least use an antibacterial mouthwash a few times a day. This could help kill germs and keep your teeth and gums cleaner when you aren’t brushing as often as you normally would.
A range of illnesses could cause nausea and vomiting, and that means that damaging stomach acid will end up in your mouth and on your teeth. Ugh! You might assume that brushing your teeth right away is a good idea, but think again. It’s actually better to just swish with water and spit after you vomit. That’s because brushing right away could cause you to get all of that nasty acid all over your enamel. And you certainly don’t want that!
Want something more refreshing than plain water? You could also swish and spit with diluted mouthwash, or you could mix a teaspoon of baking soda in some water. Either way, the goal is to rinse the acid off your teeth and down the drain where it belongs. Then, wait about 30 minutes before brushing your teeth if you’re feeling up for it.
Cough drops can help you feel better by suppressing your cough or soothing your sore throat when you’re sick, and they could also help increase saliva production to reduce dry mouth. But if you’re going to use cough drops, it’s a great idea to avoid those that contain sugar, so check the label to make sure the ingredients don’t include sugar, corn syrup, or fructose. Otherwise, you might end up using cough drops that could actually contribute to the formation of cavities. Not cool!
The same goes for what you drink. Sure, it might be wise to consume sports drinks, which are often recommended to replace lost electrolytes when you’re sick, but have them in moderation if they contain sugar. And if you opt to drink some soothing tea, consider skipping the acidic lemon or cavity-causing sugar that you might be tempted to add to it.
Dehydration is a scary side effect that might occur when you’re under the weather, and drinking plenty of pure water could be an ideal solution. Plus, keeping your body hydrated might also reduce the occurrence of dry mouth, which could even be a side effect of medications that you’re taking to get better.
Why is it so important to combat dry mouth? Well, it could increase the risk of developing cavities, on top of being really uncomfortable. But, again, it’s a good idea to avoid sugary beverages when you’re working on staying hydrated. So when your doctor tells you to drink fluids, it’s probably best to stick with plain ol’ water.
Many people like to disinfect their toothbrush routinely, and you can certainly continue doing that while you’re sick and even after you’ve recovered, as it might help kill off any bacteria that may still be present on the brush. Another option is to just replace your toothbrush, especially if it’s about three or four months old and it’s time for a change anyway. But, according to experts, the odds of reinfection are slim, so you actually don’t have to replace a toothbrush after you overcome a cold or the flu, unless you have a severely compromised immune system.
After taking some medicine and getting plenty of rest, you’ll be back on your feet in no time. And with the tips above, your mouth could be just as healthy and clean as it was before you got sick. To be absolutely sure that your teeth and gums are in tip-top shape, though, consider making an appointment with your dentist for a professional cleaning and a checkup once you’re all better.