If you’re like the average adult, you’ll get two or three colds a year, and they’ll last between seven and 10 days.1 And when flu season hits, about 8% of people in the U.S. get the flu.2 It might be easier to get through cold and flu season, while protecting your smile, when you try these tips to ease symptoms and avoid mouth complications.
Cough drops help relieve nagging coughs and cavity-causing dry mouth. Check the label to avoid cough drops and liquid cold medications containing fructose or corn syrup. These sugars can lead to cavities, especially if you keep them in your mouth for a long time. Choose sugar-free lozenges and medications in tablet form instead. If you give children 4 years or older liquid cold medication sweetened with sugar, have them rinse with water afterward and brush their teeth if given right before bedtime or a nap.
We’ve all heard you should drink fluids when fighting a cold. Just make sure you choose the best kinds.
You may not feel like doing much when you’re sick, but don’t let misery and exhaustion keep you from brushing twice a day and flossing daily.
Vomiting can be an unfortunate side effect of the flu. Not only does it dehydrate you, but stomach acids can also coat your teeth. Although you may be inclined to brush immediately, wait about 30 minutes. Brushing right after can wear down enamel softened by acid, so it’s better to swish and spit with water and baking soda several times to clean your mouth. Baking soda helps neutralize stomach acid.
Nasal congestion causes dry mouth, which can be exacerbated by over-the-counter medications, such as decongestants and antihistamines that are used to relieve stuffy noses. Try adding moisture to the air with a humidifier or vaporizer. You may also want to use a saline nasal spray. Don’t let dry mouth cause tooth decay and gum disease; drink plenty of water and suck on sugar-free hard candy to stimulate saliva and keep your mouth and throat moist.
If you start to feel under the weather during cold and flu season, take steps as soon as possible to protect your oral and overall health.