There’s no denying it: getting sick is a setback. Whether it’s the common cold, flu, or any other ailment, the fatigue and discomfort make it tempting to sideline our daily routines, including our dental care regimen. However, even when you’re not feeling your best, it’s crucial to maintain good oral hygiene. In fact, taking care of your mouth when you’re sick might help speed up your recovery and prevent further complications.
Dr. Mitzi Morris has always emphasized the intrinsic link between overall health and oral health. When your body is trying to fend off sickness, ensuring that your mouth remains a bastion of health can be beneficial. Here’s a look at why oral care is crucial during illnesses and some ways to ensure it’s done right.
The Mouth is a Gateway
Remember, your mouth is a primary entry point to the rest of your body. Bacteria and viruses that linger in your mouth can be ingested and respired, potentially prolonging your sickness. Regular brushing and flossing, even when you’re sick, can reduce the microbial load in your mouth, decreasing the chances of secondary infections or complications.
Combatting Dry Mouth
Many illnesses, especially those that come with a fever, cause dehydration. Moreover, some medications can reduce saliva production, leading to dry mouth. Saliva is nature’s way of cleaning your mouth, and its absence can lead to an increase in harmful bacteria. Drinking plenty of water and occasionally rinsing your mouth can counteract dryness and keep your oral cavity hydrated.
The Importance of Clean Tools
When you’re sick, your toothbrush becomes a hotspot for germs. While it’s always crucial to rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after each use, it’s especially vital when you’re ill. Once you’ve recovered, consider replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head to avoid any chance of reinfection.
It’s not uncommon to soothe a sore throat with sugary syrups or to sip on sports drinks for hydration during illness. However, remember that these sugars can interact with the bacteria in your mouth, leading to acid production and potential tooth decay. If you do consume sugary liquids, try to rinse your mouth with water shortly after.
Cough Drop Caution
Like sugary syrups, many cough drops contain sugar which can linger on teeth and cause cavities if consumed frequently. If you rely on cough drops to soothe your throat, look for sugar-free varieties.
Gentle Rinsing After Vomiting
It’s an unpleasant topic, but if your illness has you frequently rushing to the bathroom, it’s essential to care for your mouth afterward. Vomit is acidic and can erode tooth enamel. Rather than brushing immediately, which can spread the acid, rinse your mouth gently with water or a diluted mouthwash and wait for at least 30 minutes before brushing.
When you’re feeling under the weather, it might seem like a herculean task to maintain your oral care routine. However, as Dr. Mitzi Morris would advise, keeping up with your dental hygiene during these times can make a world of difference, not just for your teeth and gums, but for your overall well-being. Taking small steps to care for your mouth can pave the way for a swifter recovery and ensure that, once you’re back on your feet, your smile remains as radiant and healthy as ever.