Whether you live in a snowy locale or just visit to hit the ski slopes, cold and flu season has returned again for the winter months. From taking precautionary vitamin C to keeping cough drops in the glove compartment of the car, people take all sorts of steps to prevent and treat cold and flu symptoms. However, what many people don’t consider is how cold and flu remedies impact the health of their teeth, gums and mouth. Here are 3 flu season tips from a dentist to help you through the season without compromising your dental health.
How a Runny Nose Can Affect Your Teeth
Don’t you just hate having a runny nose that keeps you constantly reaching for the tissue box? Instead of rubbing their nose raw, people often take decongestant medicine to help treat runny nose symptoms of the common cold.
However, decongestants can often leave things too dry. Dry mouth, a common side effect of decongestants, can promote bacterial growth in the mouth, which in turn contributes to problems like gum disease and tooth decay. To combat dry mouth and to prevent long-term problems, drink plenty of water when taking decongestants. This will help you stay hydrated and keep your mouth lubricated.
Choose Sugar-Free Cough Drops
Cough drops can help relieve painful symptoms of a cold but be mindful that the handy lozenges contain more than just medicinal ingredients. The sugar contained in many cough drops helps boost flavor but also poses a risk to your teeth. Because cough drops are made to dissolve slowly, the sugar is able to gradually settle on your teeth, mouth and throat. If not removed through cleaning in a timely manner, the sugar can contribute to tooth decay.
If you need cough drops or lozenges to ease a sore throat, choose the sugar-free variety from the pharmacy or local drugstore.
Is Cough Syrup Good for Teeth?
Cough drops are not the only cold remedy that contains sugar – many cough syrups and other liquid cold medicines do as well. If you do not rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth after swallowing cough syrup, the thick liquid can easily stick to your teeth and contribute to tooth decay.
When possible, opt for medicine in the form of pills or gel-caps instead of liquid medication. If this isn’t an option, try to take your medicine before a meal. The increased saliva production from eating and drinking will help wash away any sugary coating left on your teeth by cough syrup.
Of course, brushing your teeth thoroughly after taking a dose of cough syrup is the most effective way to combat the hazards of
Staying healthy means more than just treating symptoms of the flu or common cold. It’s important to also remember to care for your teeth, gums and mouth as well! Following the 3 tips above can help you care for your overall health this winter season.
About the Author
Recognized as one of the “Top 100 Dentists” by Jacksonville Magazine, Dr. Larry C. Young has helped patients in the Jacksonville area achieve and maintain healthy smiles for over 40 years. He offers general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry treatment at his private practice. For more oral