People may not agree on whether to love or hate the cold winter months, but most would agree that the viruses that come around this time of year are no fun. Staying healthy can be tough, especially as new illnesses seem to develop regularly.
Good hygienic practices, like regular handwashing, are key to avoiding illness or minimizing the impact of a cold or flu. However, people should pay close attention to their oral hygiene habits as well. Here, experienced dentist Dr. John D. Meola offers our Boston, MA, patients tips for preserving oral health during cold and flu season.
Good oral hygiene practices are vital to preserving oral health. We recommend that people brush their teeth at least twice a day, or after each meal, to eliminate sugars, acids, and food particles that can attract bacteria and damage the teeth. If it is not possible to brush after every meal, individuals should rinse the mouth with water. Flossing should also be a daily habit.
Good oral hygiene habits are especially beneficial during cold and flu season. There has been a lot of evidence that shows a direct link between oral health and overall physical health. If someone has an oral infection, such as gum disease, the body will be less able to fight off the germs that cause a cold or flu. Maintaining good oral health puts the body in the best position to minimize the effects of illness.
Toothbrushes are an essential oral hygiene tool, but they can harbor bacteria. We suggest that our Boston patients replace their toothbrush every three months so that they are not introducing harmful bacteria to the mouth.
During cold and flu season, toothbrushes may need to be replaced more often. After an illness, many people think they are immune, but they can become re-infected. It is important to disinfect surfaces in the house and get rid of your toothbrush after suffering from a cold or flu.
Hydration is key to keeping the body fueled while it is sick, and it is also extremely beneficial to oral health. A dry mouth is not able to adequately rinse away food particles to keep the mouth clean. Since many medications used during cold and flu season, like antihistamines, tend to dry out the mouth, drinking water is very important. People should aim for at least six to eight glasses of water a day. If dry mouth continues to be a problem, Dr. Meola can recommend mouthwashes or other dental products that moisturize the mouth.
Sugar is one of the leading culprits when it comes to tooth decay, and it is also an ingredient in a surprising number of cold and flu medications, especially cough drops. Medication is often necessary to control cold or flu symptoms, but we suggest our Boston patients look for sugar-free options, or those with natural ingredients, whenever possible.
Professional dental care is always beneficial, but especially during cold and flu season. If you would like to learn more about maintaining good oral health, or are ready for a routine dental exam or cleaning, let us know. Call (781) 890-4900 at your earliest convenience to schedule an appointment with Dr. John D. Meola.