Achoo! Bless you! If you get a cold or the flu this season, be sure to stay home from work or school, drink plenty of fluids and rest. But you probably already know that. What you might not know is that some of the remedies you choose to alleviate symptoms can affect your teeth. Read on to learn what a dentist in Plano recommends so you can battle the bug and maintain your smile.
If you have a runny nose and are sneezing often, then you may want to take a decongestant. These will help to dry up your nose. The problem is that they can also reduce saliva flow, which could leave you with a dry mouth. And a dry mouth is more susceptible to oral health problems such as cavities and gum disease.
To combat a dry mouth, be sure to drink lots of water. You can also suck on a hard candy, throat lozenge or cough drop, but beware of sugar content.
Throat Lozenges and Cough Drops
Speaking of sugar content—candy, lozenges and cough drops can have plenty. Cough drops and throat lozenges are designed to be kept in the mouth for a rather long period of time as they dissolve slowly. While the medicinal ingredients go to work on your cough or sore throat, the sugar content can settle on your teeth.
Left in place for too long, sugar can lead to tooth decay. If possible, choose the sugar-free variety. But if sugar is on the ingredient list, then be sure to brush your teeth often in order to remove sugar.
Just like lozenges and cough drops, cough syrups or liquid cold and flu medicines contain sugar. (They don’t call it cough syrup for nothing!) Both of these thick and sticky liquids can coat your teeth. In addition, some cold medicines have alcohol, which can reduce saliva flow and make it even harder for your mouth to clear away that coating.
Pills or gel-caps are an excellent alternative to liquid medications. If you must take a liquid, then plan to have it before a meal. Eating and drinking increases saliva to wash away sugar. Be sure to brush after eating, too.
A hot cup of tea can make you feel better when you have a cold, but this soothing drink is not without its harmful side effects. For instance, black tea can corrode teeth—more so than green tea. Add a teaspoon of sugar or honey, and tooth decay becomes a risk, too.
If possible, let your tea cool and drink it through a straw in order to minimize contact with your teeth. Use less sweetener and brush after you drink.
Eat healthy, exercise and get your rest to avoid colds and the flu. And be sure to schedule regular checkups with the dentist in Plano so you can stay ahead of any oral health problems.
About the Dentist
Dr. Afshin Azmoodeh earned his DDS degree from the Texas A&M College of Dentistry. If you have any questions about your oral health or if you’d like more ideas on how to maintain a beautiful smile through cold and flu season, you can contact him through his website.