The months of November through March are considered to be flu season, so if you find yourself with the sniffles, your first priority is to be relieved of the symptoms as fast as you can. While there are countless products available to suppress and treat your sickness, your dentist says you should always be aware of what ingredients are in the products and the possible effects they can have on your oral health. Read on to learn 4 valuable flu season tips to keep in mind.
#1 – Decongestants and Dry Mouth
Decongestants are commonly used during flu season to treat a runny nose. As a result, your nasal passage and mouth can become dry, which then creates a breeding ground for bacteria to grow.
The problem presented for your oral wellness is that bacteria are the prime contributors to tooth decay and poor gum health. So to offset the reduced saliva production, be sure to ramp-up your water intake. This will help to keep your mouth saturated and your body hydrated.
#2 – Cough Drops – High in Sugar
One of the more convenient ways to suppress a nagging cough or temporarily sooth a sore throat is to insert a cough drop or throat lozenge. The problem with both is that they are typically high in sugar. Thus, as the sugars settle into your enamel (the hard, outer part of your teeth), they can contribute to rapid tooth decay.
One remedy is to look for sugar-free options. However, if you choose to continue with your normal regimen, you should be sure to brush and floss your teeth around 30 to 60 minutes after consuming either product.
#3 – The Issue with Cough Syrup
Like cough drops, cough syrups are usually high in sugar. The thick, viscus liquids are notorious for coating the teeth, which quickly attracts bacteria that seek to gnaw at the enamel.
Another possible problem is that some brands, particularly prescription medications, may contain alcohol, which can dry your mouth and further contribute to attracting bacteria.
One change you can make is to look for suppressants that come in pill or gel-cap form. Another option is to take your medication before eating a meal, as the saliva production will help to bathe your teeth.
#4 – Possible Adverse Effects of Tea
One of the popular items to consume during cold and flu season is hot tea. It is preferred because of its soothing properties, which are especially helpful for a sore throat.
The challenge posed for your oral health, though, is that it can contribute to tooth erosion. The negative effects are further magnified if you add ingredients like sugar or honey.
One strategy you can use is to drink through a straw. This will help to minimize the amount of tea that comes in contact with your teeth.
During this time of the year, it’s also a good idea to visit your dentist for a preventive care appointment to clear away any lingering plaque and tartar that could contribute to poor oral health. This will help to lessen your chances of developing an unwanted sickness.
About the Author
Dr. J. Peter St. Clair earned is dental degree from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. He has since gone on to provide the best in dental care for over 20 years. As a member of several professional organizations, which include the Academy of General Dentistry and Spear Study Club, Dr. St. Clair remains a life-long learner. He helps patients prevent sickness by providing preventive care at Dental Partners of Newburyport, and he can be reached for more information through his website.