If you are tired, have a fever or chills, sore throat, a headache, muscle aches, or a runny nose, you may have the flu. Compared to a cold, a flu has more aches and pains with a fever and a cold has more sneezes, coughs, and runny noses. If you think you have the flu, call your doctor. Once you have the flu your oral and overall health can become damaged. Below are a few ways that you can protect your oral health while you have the flu.
Change Your Toothbrush
After the flu, or any other illnesses, you should change your toothbrush. If you have an electric toothbrush, make sure you use a new head. The flu virus can stay in the bristles of the toothbrush for up to 72 hours. In addition to changing your toothbrush, remember to never share toothbrushes during the flu or any other time. These flu droplets can infect the person that you share with.
Do Not Brush After Vomiting
Although uncommon in adults, vomiting and diarrhea in children can be a symptom of the flu. If you are your child vomits, do not reach for the toothbrush afterward. When you vomit, the harsh acids from your stomach coat your teeth. Brushing after vomiting can rub these acids in more. This can tear the enamel on your teeth and increase your risk of tooth decay. Instead, if you vomit during the flu, rinse your mouth with a distilled mouthwash or a mixture of water and baking soda. This will remove the gross taste from your mouth and protect your teeth.
Avoid Sugary Cough Drops
As always, at Smiles of Memorial, we do not tell our patients to drink or eat sugar, especially for extended periods of time. However, during the flu or a cold you may have a sore throat or constant cough. Yes, you can still use cough drops. The best option to protect your teeth is to choose a sugar-free cough drop. This will limit the amount of sugar that sits on your teeth and will lower your risk of developing tooth decay.
How to Prevent The Flu
The best way you can prevent the flu is to receive a flu vaccine every fall. This not only protects you, but also the most vulnerable people in society through ‘herd immunity’. Some people such as, newborn, sick, and elderly people, cannot receive a flu vaccine because their immune system is not strong enough. However, if you get your vaccine, then you can limit the spread of the flu and protect those people. Other ways you can stop the spread of the flu is by washing your hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, staying away from those with the flu, disinfecting common areas, and covering your mouth and nose when you cough.
No matter who you are, getting the flu is never a good experience. However, your oral health does not have to suffer. Remember to change your toothbrush after you are sick, do not brush your teeth after vomiting, and only use sugar-free cough drops. For more information about oral health or to plan your next visit at Smiles of Memorial call us at (281)-493-0061, today!