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Does Having a Cold or Flu Affect My Dental Health?

November 2, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — drpatrick @ 9:51 pm

Woman in bed sick.Now that winter is here, have you dealt with a runny nose or sore throat yet? These common cold and flu annoyances increase during this time of year, and everyone has their own at-home remedies to help them feel better. But did you know that some of these common cold and flu cures can affect your dental health negatively? Keep reading to discover how to fight off cold and flu symptoms while keeping your teeth healthy at the same time.

Drying Decongestants

Decongestants are great at drying out your runny nose, but did you know it can dry out your mouth too? Dry mouth promotes the growth of bacteria without natural saliva flow to wash it away. This increases your risk of dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease.

Luckily for you, decongestant use is usually temporary. You can still use them, just be on the lookout for dry mouth. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. You can chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow, which keeps your mouth lubricated.

Coating Cough Drops and Throat Lozenges

Cough drops and throat lozenges can provide you with relief, but most of these products contain sugar. Because you suck on cough drops for long periods of time, the sugar can get in your saliva and it will coat your teeth. This increases your risk of cavities and decay because this sugary coating can eventually eat away at your teeth.

Your best bet is to choose sugar-free products. These will still give you the relief you need, and you can look for products containing sugar substitutes like xylitol to help with the taste.

Sugary Syrup and Cold Medicine

Just like with cough drops, a lot of cough syrup contains sugar to make it taste better. This thick and syrupy liquid coats your teeth in sugar with ease. Plus, some of these medications contain alcohol, which contributes to dry mouth.

If you can, choose pill or gel-cap versions of cold and flu medicine instead of syrup. Simply swallowing a pill will avoid any harm liquid medicine can do to your teeth altogether. If you have a go-to syrup that is your favorite, just remember to brush your teeth after drinking it to remove the remaining sugar in your mouth from your teeth.

Acidic OJ

Orange juice and other citric beverages are often turned to during sickness for the vitamins they contain. But these drinks have a high acidity, which softens your tooth enamel.

The best way to avoid damaging your enamel while still getting the nutritional value found in juice is to drink your full glass in one sitting. That way, you can brush when you’re finished instead of sipping it throughout the day, re-coating your teeth with acid from the beverage.

Use these cold and flu tips from your dentist to prevent dental issues while staying healthy during this season of sickness.

About the Practice

Dr. J. Benjamin Patrick and Dr. Brant Sandifer are a team of dentists who enjoy educating their patients on how to keep their teeth healthy. They take pride in providing quality and personalized care in Athens. They currently practice at Advanced Dentistry of Athens, and they can be contacted through their website or by phone at (903) 675-9118 for any questions.

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