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Winter is here! Unfortunately, this means cold and flu season is coming, right on its heels. Here are some mouth care tips that should be followed when you or your family are feeling under the weather.

First, there are some oral hygiene issues to attend to. Cleaning your mouth is especially important while you are ill to make sure bacteria and other germs are cleaned away from teeth. Following these simple steps will help ensure that your teeth don’t suffer after your cold has gone away:

· Make sure that you are brushing twice a day for two minutes each time.
· Never share your toothbrush, especially if you are sick.
· Be sure to continue to floss every day, once a day, for 2-3 minutes each session.

Some people choose to throw away their toothbrush after they have been ill; this could be a good idea for you, too. The flu virus can live on surfaces, such as a toothbrush, for up to 72 hours. While it is unlikely that you will re-infect yourself (unless your immune system is severely compromised), your brush may cross-contaminate other toothbrushes, making other people sick. The best choice is to replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head once you are on the mend.

During your illness, choose sugar-free cough drops. Otherwise, the cough drop has the same effect on your teeth as sucking on a piece of candy. The longer you suck on the cough drop, the longer your mouth bacteria can feed on the sugars in it. The bacteria use the sugars to produce acid, which eats away your tooth enamel and can cause cavities. If choosing a sugar-free cough drop is a “never gonna happen” situation for you, at least rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth immediately after you finish a cough drop.

Similarly, try to choose the correct liquids if you treat your illness by increasing your fluid intake. If you choose to drink sports drinks while you are sick, be sure to accompany then with plain water if you can. Choose varieties with little or no sugar. If you drink tea, try to avoid adding lemon and sugar.

If your teeth hurt while you are sick, it could be a result of inflamed sinuses or an ear infection which can create pressure on your teeth, making you think that you have a toothache. Talk with your physician about proper medical care in these situations. If your tooth pain persists after you’ve recovered from your illness, or if your tooth pain seems to be related to hot or cold sensitivity, talk to your dentist.

For more information, call Mountain Shadows Family Dentistry in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at (719) 598-3502. Dr. Holsteen and our team are happy to help you stay well this season!