Being sick is never fun. From having a fever to vomiting to having a bad cough, illness can get the best of us. When you’re sick, taking care of yourself can be difficult. However, looking after yourself as well as your dental health is still just as important while you’re sick, if not even more important, as dry mouth, vomiting, and oral bacteria can take their toll on your teeth and gums during an illness.
So how can you take the best care of your teeth while you’re sick?
Still Brush and Floss Your Teeth
Brushing and flossing your teeth will remove oral bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease, not to mention give you fresher breath. Your teeth will also be cleaner, which will help keep your smile healthy and prevent stains even while you’re sick. Aim to brush twice a day and floss once a day, but if brushing once a day is all you can manage, then go for it!
If You Vomit, Rinse Your Mouth After
Vomiting is the worst part of being sick for many people. While your mouth may taste and feel awful after throwing up, refrain from brushing your teeth immediately after. Why? The stomach acids that come up into your oral cavity when vomiting are extremely acidic and can weaken tooth enamel. When you brush immediately afterward, you risk damaging your tooth enamel. For best results, wait at least 30 minutes after vomiting before brushing—and in the meantime, rinse your mouth with water !
Keep Drinking Water
Staying hydrated is an essential part of taking care of yourself even when you’re not sick. However, did you know your teeth and gums also benefit from hydration? Proper hydration supports adequate saliva in the oral cavity, which helps protect your teeth from bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Not only does sipping water throughout the day help keep your mouth clean, but it can prevent bad breath and bacteria buildup even when you aren’t able to brush .
Other Helpful Tips for Protecting Your Smile
Here are a few other helpful tips that can help you take the best care of your teeth and gums even while experiencing an illness:
- For cough drops, go sugar-free. If you need to take cough drops while you’re sick, always check the label to ensure the product is sugar-free. Cough drops that contain sugar can harm your tooth enamel and contribute to cavities!
- Never share your toothbrush with anyone. Toothbrushes shouldn’t be shared when you’re not sick, but they especially shouldn’t be shared when you’re ill, whether or not you’re contagious .
- Consider an electric toothbrush. For people who have muscle weakness or fatigue due to their illness, or for those experiencing a chronic illness, an electric toothbrush may be a worthy investment. They’re easier to use and help better clean your teeth than traditional toothbrushes.
Should You Still Visit Your Dentist?
While keeping your regular dental appointments is essential for your oral health, refrain from visiting your dentist while you’re ill. Your dentist and dental hygienist work in close proximity to your mouth, so reschedule your appointment if you need to due to an illness—your dentist will understand!