The Common Cold and Your Oral Health
Winter is just around the corner, and along with that much anticipated holiday cheer comes the inevitable cold and flu season. Children in the United States miss about 22 million days of school every year due to the common cold. The average child alone gets between six to twelve colds every year and is two to three times more likely to come down with the flu.
Although children are most susceptible to the cold and flu they easily spread their aliments to their caregivers and schoolmates. When you are feeling down and out the last thing many people want to do is worry about their teeth. However, a few key tips during those down and sick days can help lead you and your family to a speedy recovery without devastation to your oral cavity.
- Stay Hydrated Being made mostly of water, it is nature’s cure for a variety of conditions. A stuffy and congested nose may cause you to breath through your mouth. Excessive mouth breathing can slow saliva production and make our mouths susceptible to harmful bacteria. Drinking water during a cold also thins mucus and prevents dehydration. If your child refuses to drink try soups, sugar-free popcicles or Jello.
- Use Sugar-free Cough Drops Many cough syrups and cough drops contain excessive amounts of sugar to make them taste great. If you are using sugary cough medicines make sure you rinse the residue off your teeth with water and brush before going to bed. There are xylitol candies and nasal sprays that help fight cavities as well as alleviate sore throat and post nasal drip.
- Minimize Sugar Intake Refined sugars such as fruit juices and white flour can depress your immune system, which weakens your body’s ability to fight infection on its own.
- Don’t Forget to Brush When you are sick you tend to take several naps throughout the day. Although you are often more tired try to do not forget to before lying down. Saliva production decreases when you are sleeping, decreasing the bodies ability to cleanse itself.
- Replace your Toothbrush Bacteria and viruses can live on your toothbrush for hours or even days on hard surfaces. The last thing you want to do is re-infect yourself after just getting over an ailment. Make sure you do not store your toothbrush next to your family members. This could lead to cross-contamination of the new toothbrush and further spread the illness.