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As we move more into 2020, many of us are looking forward to a brand new year full of opportunities. Unfortunately, one of those opportunities is not so great: December through February is the peak of cold and flu season.

There are some well-known ways to avoid getting colds in the first place like washing your hands regularly, but did you know that there are also ways to avoid these illnesses that involve dental hygiene? Below, your McAllen family dentists at WhiteWing Dental have outlined a list of tips on how to avoid colds and the flu by maintaining your oral health.

1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

“Drink plenty of water” is probably the first piece of advice we hear when we get a cold, so there should be no surprise that it’s number one on our list! Drinking water is important, not only for your overall health but for your oral health as well, even when you don’t have a cold. When you do have a cold, it becomes even more important to stay hydrated, as colds can increase the likelihood of dry mouth, which then creates the perfect environment for bacteria to flourish.

Another key part of hydration is what you’re actually drinking. When you’re under the weather, it can be tempting to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa, but the problem is, these drinks are often full of sugar that can cause cavities. Keeping your teeth healthy can help keep the rest of you healthy as well, so make sure to stick to water or low-sugar drinks instead.

2. Focus on Sugar-Fee

On that note, sugar is a hidden danger during cold and flu season in a few different ways. While cough drops can be a lifesaver when you have a throat sore from coughing so much, they can be full of sugar or corn-syrup, both of which are very hard on your teeth.

A cough drop loaded with sugar slowly dissolves in your mouth, essentially coating your teeth and providing bacteria a full buffet to feast on. In time, this bacteria will secrete acids that can burn through the enamel and cause cavities. Because of this, sugar-free cough drops are a great option, and it is a good idea to avoid any corn-syrup or sugar-based medicines as well, if not for the sake of your teeth.

Ask your doctor for any sugar-free substitutes, or drink and swish around plenty of water after taking a cough drop or medicines with a lot of sugar in them.

3. If You Vomit, Don’t Brush Your Teeth Immediately After

Having the flu can be terribly unpleasant, where vomiting is a common symptom that a lot of people experience. Vomiting isn’t fun, and you may want to rush to brush your teeth and tongue right after to get rid of any taste.

The problem is, vomiting already exposes your mouth to strong stomach acids, acids that are strong enough to weaken your enamel. Following that with the abrasion of brushing can cause even more damage to your teeth. Instead, opt-in for rinsing with water, swishing it around in your mouth, and spitting it out.

4. Don’t Forget to Brush and Floss

The number one rule for good oral health is keeping up with regular brushing and flossing. Just this simple step can save you from all sorts of problems and headaches in the future.

Brushing twice a day keeps cavities from forming in your teeth, and flossing clears out bacteria from hard-to-reach places where it can grow if left alone. Oral health has a direct connection to overall health, so it’s important not to skip on brushing or flossing.

One question that many people have is whether or not it’s safe to keep using the same toothbrush after you get over your cold or flu. Since you’ve already caught and dealt with the cold or flu virus, it is highly unlikely that you will get sick from the same virus once more.

While you may not be able to reinfect yourself with the cold or flu you overcame, you risk compromising any nearby toothbrushes that your family may use. In fact, it may be a better idea to use your own tube of toothpaste while sick in order to prevent the spread of the cold or flu to your family.

Take Care of Your Overall Health by Taking Care of Your Teeth.

When you have a cold or the flu, taking care of your body’s health is most likely your top priority. At Whitewing Dental, we believe it’s important to remember that your mouth is a big part of that!

Keeping your teeth clean can help you feel refreshed when you’re under the weather, and regular visits with your dentists in McAllen can help your mouth stay healthy all year round!

Start 2020 off the right way by coming in for an oral examination and teeth cleaning. Contact us at (956) 686-5577, or fill out the contact form, to schedule one today.