When the weather gets colder, people everywhere start looking forward to the holidays and dreading the onset of cold season. Typically, colds are thought of being temporary maladies that leave you feeling pretty miserable but don't have long-term consequences. However, some of the practices people adhere to when they are sick can have lasting negative consequences on their dental health. Follow these tips to make sure cold season does not sabotage your teeth and gums.
Don't suck on cough drops right before bed.
Cough drops can be great for clearing out your sinuses and soothing a sore throat. However, they are typically loaded in sugar. When you suck on one before bedtime, that sugar sits on your teeth and feeds oral bacteria all night, contributing to tooth decay and gum disease. If you need a cough drop at night, let it dissolve, and then brush your teeth before drifting off to sleep.
Rinse your mouth after using cough syrups.
Cough syrups are typically flavored with sugar to make them taste less disgusting. Their thick, syrupy consistency means that will stick to your teeth for hours. You can minimize this effect by always rinsing your mouth out with water (and maybe even brushing your teeth if you have your toothbrush with you) after you take a dose of cold medicine.
Keep your liquids sugar-free.
Sipping on liquids all day can help alleviate cold symptoms by fighting off dehydration and loosening mucous. However, a lot of the beverages people choose to sip when they're sick—orange juice, soda, and sports drinks—are loaded with sugar. Sticking with sugar-free drinks is better for your teeth. If plain water is not appealing, go with plain green tea or tea sweetened with Stevia extract (a natural, sugar-free, herbal sweetener).
Use nasal strips at night.
When your nose is stuffy due to a cold, you will end up breathing through your mouth at night. This dries your mouth, making it more hospitable to oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Putting an adhesive nasal strip over your nose before you go to bed will help. The nasal strip will help keep your nasal passages open so you don't have to breathe through your mouth.
With the tips above, you can fight your cold symptoms without harming your dental health. Talk to your dentist (like those at Hoffman & Karl Dental Associates, PLLC) to learn more about good dental health practices during cold season.