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Getting Through Flu Season: How to Protect Your Teeth

Dentist Naperville

According to the CDC, 17.8 million people have gotten the flu this year—2 million of which got sick within this last week! If you’re one of the unfortunate many who have come down with the flu this season, you might be trying just about anything to get back to good health. Unfortunately, some of these methods—like sucking on high-sugar cough drops—can be quite bad for your teeth. Here are a few ways you can recover from your illness and protect your teeth in the process.

1. Buy low-sugar cough drops.

If you or a loved one run to the store to buy cough drops, make sure you check the label before you purchase! While cough drops can be a saving grace for someone who is sick, they can also be quite harmful to your teeth if you’re not careful. Many cough drop brands contain high amounts of sugar—to the point where they are essentially just hard candies. As a result, these cough drops expose your teeth to a lot of sugar over a long period of time. This gives the bacteria in plaque plenty of time to metabolize the sugar and, in turn, release acids onto your teeth that gradually wear away your dental enamel. Therefore, be cautious about buying any brands that are high in fructose or corn syrup.

2. Stay hydrated.

Drinking water not only helps to restore your health, but it also protects your teeth. If you have the flu, you’re probably taking a lot of medications that can cause dry mouth—such as antihistamines, pain relievers, or decongestants. Unfortunately, dry mouth is more harmful to your teeth than you might think. It can increase your risk of cavities, gingivitis, and even halitosis. Drinking water helps to combat these effects and even fortifies your dental enamel as you drink.

3. Buy a new toothbrush.

When you get sick, germs from your mouth can collect on your toothbrush. In fact, the flu virus has the capability of surviving on moist surfaces like your toothbrush for up to 72 hours! If your immune system is particularly compromised, you could run the risk of reinfection. The simplest solution is to buy a new toothbrush as you sense your health is getting back on track.

4. Don’t brush your teeth immediately after throwing up!

We know this is counterintuitive, but brushing your teeth immediately after throwing up could cause you to further corrode your teeth! When you vomit, your teeth are immersed in acids. If you brush your teeth immediately, you help these acids to wear away your dental enamel. Instead, you’ll want to neutralize the acids before you brush. To do so, rinse out your mouth with a mixture of water and baking soda. This will diffuse these acids and make it safe for you to brush your teeth!

To check in on your oral health, call Caputo Dental in Naperville today to set up your next dentist appointment!

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