The Cold and Flu Tax on Teeth

The Cold and Flu Tax on Teeth

Cold and flu tax your oral health too

Flu and cold viruses are a part of life. We wash our hands, take vitamins, and try to stay healthy, inevitably the average adult will still get 2 to 4 colds per year. The full magnitude of the annual cold and flu season is often overlooked. However, in America, the cold virus alone, claims nearly 60 million sick days annually.

Viral infections and your oral health

  1. Dry Mouth:
    • Cold viruses, and many other viruses, dry out the oral cavity.
    • The use of many medications that suppress runny noses and excess mucus, also contribute to drier mucus membranes.
    • Many drugs may ultimately leave the mouth drier.
      • Dry mouths are less slippery, allowing bacterial colonies to thrive.
    • Breathing from the mouth due to swollen, congested nasal passages dries the oral membranes contributing further to dry mouth,
      • And bad breath.
    • Individuals suffering from flu and cold viruses are especially prone to dehydration complicating dry mouth conditions.
  2. Cough Drops and Medications:
    • Sucking on cough drops, sipping ginger ale, even oral inhalers all adversely affect teeth and surrounding tissues.
    • Cough drops and throat lozenges, even cough syrup, are sticky and sweet.
    • Sugar from these medications feed bacteria that cause decay and cavities.
    • Ginger ale and other fizzy drinks help with dehydration and nausea, they also create prime conditions for bacteria to thrive in.
    • Inhalers, used to help treat asthma, bronchitis, lung inflammation and COPD have medicine that dries surfaces in the mouth, creating areas ideal for bacteria to colonize.
      To ward off the effects of these oral medications, rinse your mouth and brush your teeth after using them. Stay adequately hydrated.
  3. Fatigue:
    • Being over tired, lethargic and general malaise are all common symptoms when battling a cold or flu virus.
    • Forgo changing out of Pj’s but do not skip oral hygiene practices.
    • Viruses attack the immunes system, dampening your body’s natural ability to combat infection and inflammation.
    • Sleep deprivation is a huge contributing factor in cases of gum disease and gingivitis.
    • Don’t let being too tired influence your ability to maintain good brushing and flossing habits.

Good Oral Health Supports Good Overall Health

Recent studies support what clinicians have long suspected. Individuals who have unhealthy teeth and gums, tend to be less healthy overall. Higher rates of oral infections are linked to higher rates of bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, stroke and heart disease, for example.

The ideal time to improve your oral health is right now, but if you are sick or feeling under the weather, don’t neglect taking care of your oral hygiene.

Call or come in and make an appointment today and we can help you get your best oral health, and your brightest smile.

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