Connecticut dentists encourage residents to practice proper oral practices during this flu season.
With the 2018 flu season in full swing, the Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA) reminds people that proper dental hygiene can help combat sickness and hasten recovery.
When wracked by coughing fits, a runny nose, or vomiting bouts, oral care may seem like less of a priority, but it’s just as, if not more important, to keep your mouth clean. According to the CDC, the flu virus can live on moist surfaces for 72 hours, which includes not only your mouth, but your toothbrush.
“When you’re sick, it is especially important to maintain proper oral care as certain practices can really hurt your mouth long-term and prolong your symptoms,” said Dr. Gary Linker, CSDA President. “This includes not sharing your toothbrush with anyone, and replacing it right away once you start feeling better.”
Staying properly hydrated is another key factor on the road to recovery. Water is the best liquid for your overall and oral health, especially when you’re sick. Warm beverages can soothe the throat – especially healthy herbal teas, but make sure to watch out for adding sugar or lemon, as that makes it less healthy and acidic. Sports drinks, while recommended to replenish electrolytes, are important to drink in moderation as they contain sugars that can wear down tooth enamel causing cavities.
It is also important to keep an eye on the ingredients of medications you’re buying. Some cough syrups and cough drops contain high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener, which can lead to deterioration of enamel, and contribute to cavities. Instead, look for medicine that substitute sugar with xylitol or sucralose.
“To clean out your mouth, you could also dissolve a tablespoon of salt in warm water—gargle and spit. This helps reduce harmful bacteria, plaque, and reduces bad breath.” continues Dr. Linker. “Instead of brushing after vomiting, the best thing to do is to swirl warm salt water around your mouth, which removes the stomach acid left in your mouth.”
“We hope everyone takes steps to stay healthy this winter,” added Dr. Linker. “But if you do come down with a cold or the flu, stay home, rest up, and drink plenty of healthy fluids. You’ll be better before you know it.”