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How to Maintain Your Oral Health While You’re Sick

March 24, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_carollo @ 5:31 pm

woman in beanie blowing her nose

With it being flu season as well as the fact that we’re facing a global pandemic, more people are sick now than they have been for the past century. As a result, more people are coughing and taking medicine to treat their coughs. But did you know that a lot of cough medicine can actually be harmful to your teeth and gums? Because of this, we’ve written this blog post on how to maintain your oral health even when you’re sick.

Why Is Cough Medicine Bad for Your Teeth?

In order to make cough drops and syrups palatable, they often come packed with sugar to mask their naturally bitter taste. But much like sugary snacks and beverages, consuming these items is far from beneficial for your teeth. When you consume something with high amounts of sugar, bacteria in your mouth feed on that sugar and leave behind an acidic waste product that eats through your tooth enamel. This is what causes cavities.

Another harmful ingredient in many cough syrups is alcohol. Even in small quantities, alcohol can seriously dry out your mouth. When you don’t have enough saliva in your mouth, leftover food particles don’t get rinsed away. They then attract bacteria that contribute to gum disease and tooth decay.

How Can You Maintain Good Oral Health While Sick?

Even though cold and flu medications can be detrimental to your oral health, you don’t need to suffer through not taking them. Instead, stick to the following tips:

  • Take a pill instead of liquid medicine. Liquid cough medications literally bathe your teeth in sugar. Pills, on the other hand, bypass your teeth. So, no matter how much sugar they contain, they shouldn’t damage your teeth.
  • Take your medication with food. You produce more saliva when you eat, which washes away sugar particles that harm your pearly whites.
  • Brush your teeth after taking your medicine. This is especially true before bed. You should never go to bed without brushing your teeth, because then bacteria could build up in your mouth overnight. Taking your medicine before you brush will reduce the amount of sugar and alcohol left behind on your teeth.
  • Choose sugar-free medicine. The next time you head to the store, opt for cough medicine without sugar. It might not taste great, but it’s certainly better than getting a cavity.

With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing day by day, it’s important that you’re aware of how to take care of your oral health just in case you get sick. Follow the tips listed above and your teeth should stay in great shape.

About the Author

Dr. John Carollo has been a dentist in Florham Park, NJ for more than 30 years. He has written more than 20 articles that have appeared in several different dental journals. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, his practice is currently closed for all non-emergency procedures. However, if you want to learn more about how you can take care of your oral health during these trying times, you can visit his website.

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