A Healthy Mouth is easily maintained when you feel your best. But when you have a cold, flu or a virus, you might be tempted to avoid regular dental hygiene.
Of course, right now the spotlight is on COVID-19, but no matter what disease you might be enduring, we hope your caregiver will focus on your dental health also. Thus, our topic today is to disclose some simple ways to create a healthy mouth when you or your child are not feeling well.
Supporting a Healthy Mouth: Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
Below, we will list a few techniques to help you or your child keep a healthy mouth, even during a time of sickness. Now, keep in mind that none of the below techniques are substitutes for maintaining regular brushing and flossing. They are the two activities that create a healthy mouth for any child.
Adults know that when they are sick, they must cover their mouths if they cough. Equally important is guarding your child’s general hygiene and oral hygiene if he or she is sick. Just as you teach children to cover their mouths when they cough, we hope you teach them to keep a healthy mouth when they are sick.
Our recent attention to the coronavirus has heightened our awareness that viruses live longer than we previously considered. Did you know that the CDC has determined that the flu virus can live on moist surfaces for 72 hours? Knowing this, you will understand why Dr. Romo states, “The number one rule is not to share your toothbrush anytime. This is especially important when you are sick.” If you have several young children at home, this might be an important detail to emphasize.
Be Sure Your Cough Drops are not Just Candy Drops
We remind parents to check out the brand and ingredients when buying children’s cough drops. You might be surprised. Like candy, sugar, fructose, and corn syrup are often ingredients, which is not much different than candy. Even worse, the longer your child keeps a cough drop in his or her mouth, the worse it is for their teeth. “Sugar is a culprit when it comes to cavities.”
Here’s the Ugly Scenario:
- The sugar-bugs (bacteria) feast on that syrupy sugar from the cough-drop.
- And then they make acid. And the acid leaves holes in teeth.
- The longer your child keeps a sugary cough drop in his or her little mouth, the more time the sugar-bugs have to feast.
- It is the waste from the sugar-bugs that becomes the acid.
- And that nasty acid eats painful holes in teeth. Thus we advise parents to buy sugarless cough—drops if needed.
When You Cannot Brush: Swish and Spit After Vomiting
You would think that brushing your teeth would be exactly the proper action to take after vomiting. Not so! You see, it’s actually better to wait. “When you vomit, stomach acids are coming in contact with your teeth and coating them,” experts say. And they add, “If you brush too soon, you’re just rubbing that acid all over the hard outer shell of your teeth.”
However, there is a special technique to make you feel better and save your teeth. Swish and swirl your mouth with water. Use a diluted mouth rinse, or a mixture of water and 1 tsp. baking soda. You probably know that baking soda neutralizes the acid. Then spit. This will wash away those mean stomach acids. Follow up 30 minutes later with a nice brushing.
Avoid the Dry Mouth Syndrome and Stay Hydrated
When your child is ill, you probably already know to push fluids and avoid allowing him or her to become dehydrated. But did you know, at the same time you are preventing the dry mouth syndrome? The syndrome is very uncomfortable. But even worse than that, dry mouth can put your child at greater risk for cavities. Moreover, the medications for colds and flu can also dry out your mouth. Antihistamines, decongestants, or pain relievers—can all contribute to this syndrome.
In Sickness or in Health: The Best Drink
For fluids, the Dentistry for Children’s standard prescription is always water. It’s what the human body craves. For the human mouth, gums, and teeth, “The safest thing to drink is water…” We know you or your child might think a sports drink is better. However, think before you reach for that sports drink. Many of them are full of sugar.
“Sports drinks might be recommended to replenish electrolytes when you’re sick. However, we advise you to drink them in moderation. Don’t make them a habit after you’ve recovered.
We know warm tea sounds comforting when you have a cold or flu. However, watch out for sugar and lemon. “Try not to add sugar or lemon if you can avoid it. Sugar can help to fuel cavity-causing bacteria, and lemon is acidic. It’s something to keep in mind once you’re feeling 100% again, as well.”
In Praise of Water: The Elixir for a Healthy Mouth
Again, we must praise the drinking of cool, delicious water, especially fluoridated water. Whether children are at their healthy best or a little under the weather, water is the best beverage for maintaining you’re their dental health as well as their overall health.
- Did you know the fluoride helps make your child’s teeth more resistant to the acidic attacks of the above mentioned “sugar bugs?” That means your child will have fewer cavities.
- Over 100 health organizations have recognized and endorsed the health benefits of water fluoridation for preventing dental decay. This includes the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, and the American Dental Association.
- For more than 70 years, the best available scientific evidence consistently has indicated that community water fluoridation is safe and effective.
Thus we have presented you with a few tips to keep your child’s mouth healthy during cold and flu season. One additional point we’d like to make is that these same tips work for any age, even the grandmother who lives at a nursing home—or perhaps we should say, especially for her.
The Family at Dentistry for Children Misses You!
We know you have the dentist’s phone number in case of an emergency. We want you to know that we continue to miss you. We continue to follow the COVID-19 guidelines slated by our governor. Dr. Troy King cherishes the health and safety of our patients and team-members above all else. So Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. And do not forget to brush and floss.