Everyone dreads cold and flu season because it’s inconvenient, snotty, and impacts your daily schedule, not because all the cough drops and decongestants impact your oral health. Many people aren’t aware that the over-the-counter remedies they use are impacting the health of their teeth and gums. That means that as soon as they fight off their cold, they’ll be faced with pesky cavities. Here are some problems you could face and some flu season tips from your dentist to help.
For your oral health, there’s such a problem as too dry. Decongestants are great at tackling runny noses and clogged sinuses, but they’re also known to commonly cause dry mouth. Many people aren’t aware of how this oral issue can impact their health. The reduced saliva production actually promotes bacteria, plaque, and tartar accumulation, which are all known to cause cavities and gum disease.
Cough Drops and Lozenges
The main ingredient that makes cough drops and sore throat lozenges bearable is sugar. Even though it’s just a small product, it could have a big impact on your dental health. The average drop or lozenge contains four grams of sugar. When you’re letting three or more of those slowly dissolve in your mouth throughout the day, your saliva won’t get a chance to clear away the sugar from settling on your teeth. Additionally, these medicinal solutions contain other ingredients that are bad for your mouth, like high fructose corn syrup.
Cough Syrups and Liquid Medicine
Similar to cough drops and lozenges, cold medicine in the form of liquids and syrups often contain high amounts of sugar that contribute to cavity formation. Some of these also contain alcohol, which inhibits your saliva production and makes it more difficult for sugar to be washed off of your teeth.
Preventing Oral Health Problems This Flu Season
The good news is, there are numerous preventive measures you can take to help protect your teeth and gums from the lingering threat of cold and flu season remedies. There are even some tips that can ease symptoms caused by your illness as well as prevent common oral health problems from developing. Some ways you can avoid needing an unexpected visit to the dentist while battling with flu season include:
- Drink Green Tea: Green tea can help soothe your throat while protecting your mouth against gum disease, cavities, and bad breath.
- Brush and Floss Daily: Although you won’t feel like moving from the couch or bed, it’s important to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, especially when you’re sick. Also, be sure to floss every day.
- Rinse with Antibacterial Mouthwash: If you’re concerned about lingering oral bacteria, be sure to rinse your mouth with antibacterial wash every day.
- Stay Hydrated with Water: Several medications are known to cause dry mouth. To keep this side effect from resulting in additional issues, be sure to stay hydrated with water. This will help clear your teeth of settled sugar.
This flu season, take the time to keep your oral health from declining along with your physical health. Although it can feel difficult to take care of yourself when you’re suffering from a fever, runny nose, clogged sinuses, and severe headaches, it’s important to keep up with your dental hygiene routine. After all, the last issue you would want to deal with while fighting off illness is an unexpected toothache or extreme sensitivity.
About the Author
Dr. Nicholas Brong is passionate about helping his patients achieve the healthiest smiles by offering them high-quality dental care that they can trust. He focuses on providing thorough preventive dentistry that helps spot small problems before they have a chance to become more severe and cause a patient pain or discomfort. He also enjoys treating patients of all ages and offers comprehensive treatment. For questions or to schedule a routine checkup and cleaning for your family, visit Zumbro Family Dental’s website or call 507-288-1066.