It’s that time of year – cold and flu season is upon us! And as we know, it’s compounded by the fact that COVID-19 is still very much a part of our lives. Not only do airborne germs start to fill the air but here in New England, we spend more time indoors when the cold front hits, which means that germs can more easily transfer to a new host in places like schools, homes and office environments. While those of us in these atmospheres daily are still adhering to mask-wearing, hand-washing and other critical COVID-19 protocols, it doesn’t mean that we’re guaranteed immunity and that we will not contract one of these viruses. For this reason, it’s important to understand how you can promote your overall health as we endure the holiday season, and winter in general.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Drinking fluids like water, juice, clear broth, and warm water with lemon can help to expedite your recovery from colds and flu while simultaneously keeping your mouth healthy. It’s important to note that the cold medications that dry up your sinuses can also dry your mouth. When you’re experiencing dry mouth, this means that acids and sugar have a chance to linger, which can damage tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
Water is your number one ally when it comes to staying hydrated, but we understand that you may need some flavor once in a while. If you need to switch it up, moderately consume sugar-free sports drinks with electrolytes, but also take note of the impacts that sugar-free drinks can have on your teeth. Tea with honey and/or lemon can also be a good option in moderation. But, remember that honey is sugar and lemon is acidic, so it’s important to rinse with flat water after a concoction of this type. There are also herbal teas that you can try that do not contain sugar; try something with a natural sweetness like cinnamon or chamomile.
Regularly Change Your Toothbrush
We typically recommend changing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, but during cold and flu season, it may serve you to do this even more frequently. This will help to minimize the transmission of germs within your home environment, especially if you’re sharing a bathroom with multiple people.
Cough drops can act as a friend and a foe. They help keep saliva flowing, which helps to rinse the mouth while neutralizing acids and preventing cavities. But, we need to be mindful of the sugar component. Medications, too, often contain sugar so it’s important to seek out sugar-free options. If you opt for cough syrup, it’s imperative that you brush and rinse after consuming.
Be Mindful of Your Symptoms
Symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea can be side effects of the flu, especially in children. If you or your child vomits, we would advise you not to brush right away. The act of brushing can spread the stomach acid that just coated your teeth so your best option is to. Instead, swish water around your mouth, or a solution like diluted mouthwash or water mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda and then spit the liquid out. We would recommend waiting approximately 30 minutes before brushing.
Washing Your Hands
Remember to wash your hands throughout the day to help prevent the spread of flu and colds. We also want to emphasize how important it is to wash your hands before and after you brush and floss. By keeping your hands clean, you can help to prevent disease-causing bacteria from entering your mouth.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your oral health, feel free to contact us!