With Winter now on the horizon, dentist Reena Jasani looks what happens to our teeth when viruses strike.
It probably seems a bit premature to talk about winter, with the nice hot summer not so far behind us. It won’t be too long though before we are all donning our hats and coats before going outside.
Although the colder weather does have its fans, it is also usually the start of a season of sniffles and sneezes and reaching for the honey and lemon. Colds and flus can make us feel terrible, but our teeth can also suffer when we become ill. Dr Jasani takes a look at the potential problems in our blog:
When we are laid on the sofa with our box of tissues and favourite box set on the TV, it may seem too much effort to get up to have a drink. However, staying well hydrated is helpful for our teeth and gums and drinking water especially, will not only help to remove food debris from between our teeth, but also keep our mouths moist and help to reduce the spread of potentially gum disease causing bacteria. Some of the medications that we take for colds and flus may also dehydrate us, so do try to drink more water at this time.
Comfort foods and drinks
The idea of eating a healthy salad will almost certainly not occur to us when we are ill. On the menu are often foods that offer comfort, but potentially little nutritional value. High sugar drinks, cakes and packets of biscuits may well be not too far out of our reach, but try to keep this to a minimum to avoid an overload of sugar which is obviously harmful to your teeth.
There is usually one nasty bug which does the rounds which causes vomiting; the Norovirus being one of the best well known. When we vomit, our teeth come into contact with the acids brought up from our stomach which is corrosive and very harmful for our teeth. A common mistake after we have finished being sick is to brush our teeth immediately to remove the taste. This only serves to brush the acids further around the teeth, causing even more harm. Try using a mouthwash for instant relief and then brush your teeth half an hour or so later when your teeth have recovered and the acid environment has subsided.
If the pressure builds in our sinuses, it can cause a toothache. This is temporary though and should go when your cold is better; so there is usually no need to see a dentist about this. Some medications may help to relieve these symptoms and you may also wish to take a painkiller too. If the symptoms do persist when you are better, you will need to book a dental appointment at the Confidental Clinic in Surbiton, just to be sure.
Lack of oral care
Finally, everything can feel like an effort when you are ill. Do make sure though, to maintain your brushing and flossing routine during this time. Your teeth will thank you for it! Once you have recovered, it is a good idea to see the hygienist for a scale and polish to remove any hardened tartar that has built up during your sickness. This is a great way to help restore your mouth to a healthier condition.
Dr Reena Jasani is a general dentist at the Confidental Clinic (GDC 245609).