Because of busy schedules, it can be tough to care for teeth even in the best of times. It’s especially difficult, though, if you’re sick. When you’re ill, you may find it tough to do much more than get out of bed. We hope you’re not sick – but we realize you may be, given we’re in the midst of cold and flu season.

While flu season usually usually peaks between December and February, according to the CDC,  it can last into May. This is also a time of year when many of us get at least a few colds. No matter why you’re sick, it’s important to care for teeth.

Our dentists are sharing five tips to help you keep teeth healthy, even when you’re feeling awful. If you have any questions, Call Carmichael Dental Care at 334-600-1423.

Stay Hydrated

Doctors and others have always suggested drinking lots of fluids while you’re ill. It’s good advice! From our perspective, staying hydrated helps prevent dry mouth, an uncomfortable condition that leaves you more susceptible to tooth decay. Since common medications such as  antihistamines, decongestants, and pain relievers can dry out your mouth, it’s especially important to drink plenty of fluids when you’re sick.

Water is almost always the best choice. While sports drinks can help you feel better by replenishing electrolytes, choose a sugar-free version if possible – or at least drink them in moderation. Many of them contain lots of sugar. Don’t add too much sugar or lemon if you want to drink comforting beverages like hot tea. The sugar and the acids in lemon aren’t good for your teeth.

Keep Brushing Your Teeth

We know you may not feel like brushing your teeth when simply standing up feels like a chore. But to keep teeth in good shape, you should do your best to brush twice a day. It’s best to brush for two minutes, but any brushing is better than none. Try to floss at least once a day also.

Here’s a scary fact: The flu virus can survive on surfaces like a toothbrush or sink handles for up to 72 hours. Given that, be sure to practice good sanitation. Wash your hands before eating and after using the restroom. Use your arm, not your hands, to cover sneeze. It’s never a good idea to share your toothbrush is an oral hygiene best practice any time, but it’s an especially bad practice when you’re sick.

Select Your Cough Drops Carefully

Cough drop manufacturers tend to load them up with fructose or corn syrup to make them taste better. Because of this, cough drops affect your teeth the same way that hard candies do. The longer the sugar remains in your mouth, the greater the chance bacteria you can get cavities. So rinse your mouth, if you can, after consuming cough drops that contain sugar. Even better, choose sugarless cough drops if possible.

Minimize Damage if You Throw Up

Throwing up is one of the most unpleasant aspects of being sick. We know you probably want to brush your teeth right away to get the taste out of your mouth. Fight that impulse, though. It’s better to simply rinse with water instead of brushing. Stomach acids from vomit coat the teeth; if you brush immediately, you risk damaging your tooth enamel. If you can, wait about half an hour.

Reschedule Dental Visits, if Necessary

If you’re sick, don’t worry about canceling your dental appointment. That way, you can recuperate at home – and you won’t bring any contagious illnesses into our office. We’ll be happy to get you back onto our schedule when you’re feeling better! To keep scheduling as convenient as possible, we open at 8:00 a.m. Monday through Thursday.

For more tips on how to care for teeth when you’re sick – or any time – call Carmichael Dental Care at 334-600-1423.