Dental Care During Flu Illness

The common cold and flu both cause congestion, which can cause issues like sore throats, dry mouth, and even tooth pain. Mouth-breathing and post-nasal drip can dry out your mouth.

If you have a cold or the flu, make sure to brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day. This helps keep the bacteria in your mouth under control and can alleviate some side effects of congestion such as bad breath and dry mouth. Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated, a dry mouth can become the perfect environment for plaque and cavity bacteria.

The CDC warns that the flu virus can remain on moist surfaces like toothbrushes for up to 72 hours. If you’ve been sick, keep your brush away from your family’s toothbrushes to avoid spreading the virus. Also, throw that brush away as soon as you feel better. Although the risk is low, there is a possibility of reinfection, especially if your immune system is weak or compromised already.

When possible, you could also consider sugar-free medications or brush your teeth after taking medication. Many cough syrups and drinkable cold and flu medicines are full of sugar to make them more palatable. But how many times have you taken a dose of cough syrup before taking a nap or going to bed? Going to sleep with sugar coating your teeth is a recipe for tooth decay.

Sugarless cough drops are best. Fructose and corn syrup turn cough drops into candy, and sucking on them all day provides constant fuel for cavity-causing bacteria.