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Having a cold or flu doesn’t just impact your body, but can affect your oral health too. Taking care of both is important at this time.

You may not think your daily brushing and flossing routine is a priority while you are sick, but you’d be incorrect. In fact, cleaning your mouth while you are sick can make you feel better. Here are some things to help your smile thrive while you are recovering:

-The Centers for Disease Control says that the flu virus can survive on moist surfaces for up to 72 hours. While you should never share toothbrushes to avoid contamination, it’s even more important when you are sick. Make sure to brush twice a day, floss once, and if your toothbrush is 3-4 months old, replace it after you get well.

-When you have a cough, you might want to soothe your symptoms with cough drops. Just check the label to make sure they are sugar-free; you don’t want to suck on lozenges with fructose or corn syrup in them all day long. Cavity-causing bacteria thrive on sugar and release harmful acids that erode tooth enamel.

-Stomach flu that has you vomiting can be hard on your teeth (as well as your gag reflex). However, you don’t want to brush your teeth right after you vomit, as the stomach acids are coating your teeth. Wait 30 minutes before brushing, and for now, rinse your mouth out with water or a diluted mouthwash. A home remedy that helps neutralize acids can be made by mixing water with 1 tsp. of baking soda and rinsing your mouth with it.

– When you are sick, it’s vital to stay hydrated. Your best fluid of choice is plain old water when it comes to protecting your teeth. If you are suffering from dry mouth, you can also suck on sugar-free cough drops or throat lozenges to for relief.

If you would like to know more about protecting your teeth and gums when you are sick, you can always call and speak to a member of our ODonnell Family Dentistry at 859-269-4613. Our dentist, Dr. David O'Donnell and team in Lexington, Kentucky are happy to help you protect your oral health.