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How the Common Cold Can Hurt Your Teeth

A box of tissues next to a white mug, glasses, and used tissues by someone with a cold

It’s the season of carrying around pocket tissues… colder temperatures have set in and it seems like nearly everyone has the sniffles. For many of us, the common cold is one of the more annoying winter traditions. Side effects of the common cold are often a cough, sore throat, congestion, and a runny nose. Today at CarolinasDentist, we want to take a closer look at another side effect that is often overlooked: the impact of a cold on your oral health.

A Cold to Cavities

When you have a cold, do you regularly pop a cough drop into your mouth? And what are you drinking? Many of our patients tell us that they reach for a ginger ale, 7UP®, Sprite®, or orange juice when they’re sick. While these drinks and lozenges may feel soothing, their high sugar content sends the bacteria in your mouth into overtime producing acid. This is because sugar is fuel for your bad oral bacteria, which create enamel-damaging and decay-causing acid as they feast. Over time, well-fed bacteria accumulate into plaque and harden into tartar. If left untreated, these substances can lead to serious oral health issues, such as receding gums, tooth decay, sensitive teeth, bad breath, gum infection, tooth loss, and bone loss.

Don’t Forget About Good Oral Care Habits When You’re Sick

When we’re sick with a cold, it can be tempting to just hibernate in bed or languish on the couch. Though we do recommend ample rest, it is critical to keep brushing and flossing your teeth! Even missing one night of brushing can give cavity-causing bacteria a chance to build up and damage your teeth and gums. If this bacteria isn’t brushed, flossed, and washed away, it can also feed upon the mucus dripping down your throat. Therefore, even if you have a cold, do your best to maintain great oral healthcare habits:

  • Brush twice daily for two minutes each time with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Floss between your teeth at least once every day.
  • Rinse and gargle with an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash.
  • If you don’t like mouthwash, gargle with 1 teaspoon salt mixed with 1 cup warm water to ease your sore throat.
  • Eat nutritious foods that are easy on your throat (like soup, yogurt, and smoothies).
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Only use sugar-free throat lozenges.
  • Go screen-free! Read a good book instead of binge-watching a TV show.
  • Switch out your toothbrush once you’ve recovered.

More Questions? Ask Us!

To ask our team any questions about how to prevent common oral health problems when you have a cold or how to improve your at-home oral hygiene routine, contact us today.

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