How To Care For Your Teeth When You’re Sick

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Andrew Slavin, DMD, FACS

Andrew Slavin, DMD, FACS

August 18, 2022

No one likes being sick. Whether it’s a common cold or a stomach bug, being sick is inconvenient and not fun. Although caring for your teeth may not be on the top of your priority list when you’re sick, it is important to tuck these five tips away for the next time you’re feeling under the weather. Your future self and your dentist will thank you.

Keep up on your oral hygiene routine

When you’re sick, keeping up with your oral hygiene routine is the last thing on your mind. However, continuing your regular oral hygiene routine is a small but effective way to care for your teeth even when you’re sick. In addition, caring for your oral hygiene will make you feel more refreshed and ensure you don’t have another thing to worry about once your body gets better. 

A good oral hygiene routine consists of:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day
  • Flossing at least once a day
  • Use mouthwash once a day or every other day

Stay hydrated to avoid dry mouth

Your body needs to stay hydrated when you’re sick more than ever. Whether you’re losing fluids from throwing up or sweating excessively from a fever, drinking water to keep your body hydrated is a sure-fire way to help your body get stronger. Not only will it help your body function properly, but it will also help you avoid dry mouth. Dry mouth promotes cavity development and is also uncomfortable. Staying hydrated will increase the amount of saliva flow in your mouth, washing away any bacteria and preventing dry mouth and potential cavities from developing. For more information on how hydration improves your oral health, read “How Hydration Improves Oral Health.”

Choose sugar-free cough drops

Choosing sugar-free cough drops might be the last thing on your mind when you have someone running to the store to grab all the sick day essentials. However, it may be more important than you think. Since most cough drops contain a high amount of sugar and are made to sit in your mouth, it increases the risk of cavities forming. Picking up a package of cough drops labeled “sugar-free” is a small and easy way to care for your teeth when you’re sick.

Rinse your mouth out after vomiting

If you are fighting a stomach bug or another sickness that is causing you to throw up, then rinsing your mouth out is vital to care for your teeth. The acids from your stomach that come up when you vomit can erode your teeth if left sitting there. You may be tempted to brush your teeth after vomiting, but this can rub the acid into your teeth rather than washing it away. Instead, try rinsing your mouth with water and swishing it around like mouthwash before spitting. This will wash away some of the harmful acids and prevent them from staying on your teeth. If you must brush your teeth after vomiting, try waiting at least 30 minutes. 

Treat yourself to a new toothbrush

Once your health returns and you feel better, you can celebrate by picking out a new toothbrush. Bacteria will likely hide out in your old toothbrush from your sickness. So trading it out for a new, germ-free toothbrush will decrease your likelihood of getting sick again. 

Caring for your teeth when you’re sick has many positive long-term effects. Your future self will thank you for taking the time to continue your oral hygiene routine, staying hydrated, avoiding sugar, rinsing your mouth, and buying a new toothbrush when you get better. So don’t forget these five tips the next time you’re sick. 

Andrew Slavin, DMD, FACS

Andrew Slavin, DMD, FACS

Hello there, great choice moving towards the personal dental health care you desire!

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