Colds and your teeth

Colds and your teeth

Protect Your Teeth During This Cold & Flu Season

Now that the days are getting colder and shorter here, it’s a great time to talk about how colds can effect your teeth.

 

We have come up with a variety of ways that the cold and flu can mess up your oral health:

We drink acidic beverages:

Water doesn’t sound very good when you’re sick.  Many people drink lots of orange juice and soda pop (such as ginger ale) when they’re sick.  You can lessen the effect of acidic drinks on your teeth by drinking them quickly and then either drinking or rinsing your mouth out with water when you’re done.

You don’t feel like brushing or flossing:

When you’re sick, the first thing on your mind is getting better, not brushing and flossing.  However, by taking a couple of minutes each day to take care of your teeth, you can prevent the build-up of tartar, which is a type of hard mineralized plaque that forms on your teeth if you don’t remove plaque daily.

Inflammation of the sinuses can make your teeth and gums hurt:

If you’ve got a cold and you’re stuffed up, your sinuses might not feel very good!  The maxillary sinus is located right above your upper back teeth and can make them hurt.  There have also been reports of people’s gums hurting when they’re sick.  This probably occurs because many people breathe through their mouths when they’re sick because they have a stuffy nose.  This dries out the gums and irritates them.  Another possible explanation is that your immune system is so busy fighting your cold that it’s harder for it to fight the bacteria in your mouth, thus causing your gums to get irritated.

Your mouth gets dry:

As we mentioned above, your mouth gets dry because you breathe through it more than usual when your nose is stuffy.  Coughing can also dry out the mouth.  A dry mouth allows sugar to hang around in your mouth and contributes to tooth decay.  Try to stay hydrated when you are sick as much as possible!  When possible, reach for plain water instead of juices or soda pop.

Cold medicine isn’t very friendly to your teeth:

Cough syrups such as can stick to your teeth and cause cavities.  Many cold medicines are acidic.  Acidic drinks can dissolve the calcium that makes up the enamel of your teeth.  Cough drops are another culprit, but they don’t have to be.  Just eat sugar free cough drops and you’ll be fine.  Rather than taking cough syrup, try substituting something in pill form.  If you must have Alka-Seltzer, you might want to rinse out your mouth or drink water afterward to get the acid off of your teeth.

Vomit is acidic and dissolves your teeth.

The stomach is the most acidic place in your body and when it’s contents come back up, they will dissolve your teeth.

After vomiting, the best thing to do for your teeth is to rinse out with water.  You might be tempted to brush your teeth with toothpaste to get the acidic taste out of your mouth, but brushing can damage the enamel because it’s already been weakened by the exposure to your stomach acid.

Conclusion

Having a cold can hurt your teeth.  Remember to continue your regular oral hygiene routine even when you don’t feel well.  Try to avoid cold and flu medicine that are syrups or contain lots of sugar.  Pills and sugar-free cough drops are excellent alternatives.  If you do happen to throw up, remember to rinse your mouth afterward with water to wash away the acid.