Now that the weather has turned cold, the number of cases of the flu has started to rise. Flu doesn’t just affect your overall health – it can also affect your teeth too, and make it more likely that you’ll get plaque or a cavity.
If you get the flu, then you’ll want to take plenty of rest until you get better. You’ll also want to take note of our tips on how to look after your teeth when you’re ill.
Drink plenty of water
When you get sick, people will often advise you to drink plenty of water. This is for a good reason: it keeps you hydrated and helps your body to fight the infection.
But did you also know that water is great for your teeth? That’s because water neutralises acidity in your mouth, and it also helps to wash away bits of food.
It might be tempting to drink lots of tea with lemon and honey when you’re sick. This is okay for a few days but we don’t recommend doing it all the time. Tea, for example, can stain your teeth. Lemons are very acidic, which can damage your enamel. And honey is very sticky and sugary, which can cause plaque. The best thing to drink is plain water, even when you’re ill.
Use sugar-free medicine
Lots of flu medicine contains sugar. Cough drops, for example, are mainly sugar – in fact, they have so much sugar in them that they are practically sweets. Cough syrup too is high in sugar. This isn’t good for your teeth.
Thankfully there are sugar-free alternatives nowadays that are much better for your teeth. Ask your pharmacist for sugar-free cough drops for instance.
If you vomit, don’t brush your teeth afterwards
Flu can cause a whole range of unpleasant symptoms, and one of these is vomiting.
If you do throw up, you might be tempted to brush your teeth straight afterwards to freshen your mouth. However, this isn’t a good idea. The acidity of in your mouth will have temporarily softened your teeth, and if you brush your teeth at that point, you could damage them. We recommend simply rinsing your mouth with mouthwash instead. It’s much kinder on your teeth.
You can brush your teeth, but do wait 1-2 hours after you throw up. By that point, your teeth will have re-hardened.
Be careful about who uses your toothbrush
When you have the flu, letting someone else use your toothbrush is an instant way to give them the flu as well. That’s because your toothbrush will contain little droplets of saliva, and these droplets will have the flu virus. So if you have small children, keep your toothbrush out of their reach.
Being ill with flu is an unpleasant experience. However, with a little bit of thought, you can reduce the impact it might have on your oral health.