When cold and flu season comes around, there’s a real risk of contracting a viral infection… with aches, upset stomach, nausea, sore throat, diarrhea, congestion, coughing, and fever. Getting a cold or the flu is something that everyone would like to avoid altogether! However, if you do get an infection, either a cold or flu, it will have more impact on your dental health than you might suppose.
Surprising Impacts the Flu Season Has on Your Dental Health
In general, the symptoms will last between 24 and 48 hours, but can last up to 3 or more days. During that time, you’ll do whatever you can to help alleviate your symptoms, and, that’s when your dental health is most compromised. That’s right, your dental health can be dealt a real blow when you get the flu. Here are 4 common flu season behaviors that can harm your mouth, teeth and gums:
- Taking cough lozenges. When you have a cold or get the flu, chances are excellent you’ll have a cough. Of course, that’s your body’s way of trying to expel virus from your system, but it can cause you to have a sore throat. So, you take cough lozenges to suppress your urge to cough. Those lozenges are harmful to your teeth. Often, they contain high amounts of sugar, and, combined with their hardness, can damage your teeth when chewed.
- Drinking orange juice. We all know that orange juice is a great source of vitamin C and it’s a breakfast staple. When you drink orange juice for the vitamin C, you’re exposing your teeth to a lot of sugar and citric acid.
- Consuming sports drinks / energy drinks. Dehydration is another side effect of getting the flu, because your body uses so much energy to fight the infection and you consume less food and drink, so you might try to rehydrate or get a burst of energy by consuming sport or energy drinks. These are high in sugar and can also cause damage to your teeth.
- Taking cough syrup. The ingredients in most over-the-counter cough syrups contains high levels of fructose (a type of sugar) and acids. Both of these create a powerful decaying combination that can also damage your teeth.
Another way having the cold or flu can harm you is by… believe it or not… brushing your teeth! While there’s certainly nothing wrong with brushing, it’s what’s on the bristles which can be harmful. Your toothbrush becomes contaminated with the virus. So, make sure you clean your toothbrush well after brushing, and replace it when you are feeling better.
Until next time, keep flossing!