Colds and Your Teeth

As if feeling poorly due to a cold isn’t enough, this virus and its myriad remedies can cause several issues with your mouth that mustn’t be ignored.

Colds and sinus infections that abound during cold winter months may cause bad breath, dry mouth, toothaches due to sinus pressure and even tooth decay.

To alleviate these dental-related pitfalls, you will want to take certain measures to prevent unnecessary trips to the dentist, and potential dental fillings.

The main goal is to help keep bacteria down and there are several ways to do this.

Be sure and continue your daily routine of brushing and flossing twice a day to keep your mouth free of food particles and bacteria. If you are taking sugar-based cold medicines, brush, rinse or, at minimum, chew sugar-free gum afterwards to prevent tooth decay.

Mouth breathing as a result of stuffed up noses restricting air flow causes a reduction in saliva which normally keeps bacteria at bay. Consequently, drinking lots of water is key to not only help loosen up congestion and help your body combat colds and coughs, but for preventing dry mouth which can be a precursor to gum disease and cavities. Dry mouth is exacerbated by decongestants and antihistamines, one more reason to drink up! Juice and soup will also help reduce dry mouth, just remember to brush afterwards.

Colds and allergies often cause post nasal drip due to excess mucus which can increase bacteria and contribute to “cold breath”. Increasing fluid intake and gargling with salt water are the best ways to help reduce bacteria and prevent bad breath and other dental issues.

Shop carefully for flu and cold remedies to prevent added side effects to being ill. Sugars in cough syrup and cough drops can lead to tooth decay and cavities so it is best to select sugar-free syrups and lozenges. Alcohol-based cold medicines can compound dry mouth issues, so it is advisable to avoid this common cough syrup ingredient. You can take these medicines with meals to allow your saliva to wash away pesky sugars and acids, or better yet, choose medicines in pill form. At minimum, rinse or brush after taking medicines that contain sugar or alcohol. With juice and formulas containing citric acid wait 30 minutes before brushing to protect your enamel.

When your cold has run its course, hit the drugstore for a new toothbrush as bacteria on your old one could possibly repeat the cycle of illness.

If you had a pesky cold or two this winter, consider scheduling a dentist appointment for a dental cleaning to make sure your teeth are in good shape.

Lastly, if you are tight on funds, remember that dental financing is available and your teeth might not be able to wait.