Colds, flu and other winter viruses can have an adverse effect on our teeth.
Despite the fact that winters seem to be generally milder than in the past, cold spells are still quite possible. In addition to the cold weather, this is also a time of the year when many of us will be struck down with colds, or even worse, with the flu.
There are a number of ways that you can reduce the risk of these, including the flu vaccination and making sure that you wash your hands regularly. Even then though, the risk of colds and flu are still ever present.
There is no doubt that we feel rotten when we are ill with these viruses, and even our teeth can be affected by them. In today’s blog, our Bedford dentists look at how you can avoid the worst effects of both colds and flu on your teeth.
They old saying used to be that you should drink plenty of water to help ‘flush away’ the virus. Whilst this has since been challenged, it is still a wise and valid point when it comes to your teeth. Illnesses can make us dehydrated and lethargic. We have mentioned before that water is great for helping to avoid gum disease and for flushing food debris from the mouth. Given that you may be more easily dehydrated when you are ill, and your oral bacteria probably also affected, drinking plenty of water is definitely a helpful thing to do.
Sensitivity and discomfort
It isn’t unusual to feel a little discomfort in your teeth when you are ill. This can lead some patients to suspect that they have a cavity, an abscess or other dental problem. Whilst this may sometimes be the case, it is often due to pressure building in the sinus cavity, or inflammation. As a general rule of thumb, a tooth cavity usually leads to a throbbing kind of discomfort, whilst discomfort caused by sinus cavity inflammation is likely to be a constant level of discomfort. If the discomfort persists after you have recovered from your illness, you should have the issue checked at The Dental Centre Bedford.
Throw away your toothbrush
We discussed this in a recent blog, so, to be brief, once you have recovered from your virus, make sure that you replace the brush or head to minimise the risk of reinfection.
Some cases of the flu may lead to vomiting. Although you may be tempted to brush your teeth straight away after doing this in order to take the taste away, it is best not to do so. The acids produced when we are sick in this way are very corrosive and may cause damage to the enamel. If you wait for approximately thirty minutes after being sick, the enamel will have hardened again and can then be brushed. Do rinse your mouth in the interim of course.
Neglect through exhaustion
Even a bad cold can be exhausting. The constant sneezing and blowing of the nose, combined with other factors can really tire us out. The chances are that, when we are ill, we won’t clean our teeth as well as we usually do, if we even clean them at all. However awful you feel, it really is important to keep up your regular cleaning regimen as best as you can. Given that your diet at this time may well contain more comfort foods, and therefore more sugar, keeping your teeth and gums clean is essential.
Sugar free remedies
It is quite likely that we will use products such as cough sweets or throat syrups when we are ill, in order to relieve some of the symptoms. This is fine, but it is best to try to use sugar free ones where possible. If we have a sore throat we may well suck sweets throughout the day, giving our teeth a generous and consistent supply of sugar. Cough syrups too can be very sticky and may stick to the teeth for a very long time, especially if we neglect to brush them.
Give your teeth a ‘top up service’
If you’ve suffered with a prolonged cold or perhaps even ‘flu, it may be that your oral health has deteriorated a little. In this case it could well be worth an additional visit to see one of our dentists and/or hygienists to get a quick check-up to make sure all is well and that any issues can be addressed quickly to get you back on track.
If you have fully recovered from the flu and feel that you would like to take advantage of having your teeth and gums professionally cleaned by our hygienist, or to see the dentist, please call The Dental Centre Bedford on 01234 819868 for an appointment.