Colds and related illnesses – we look at how these can affect your teeth and gums.
Whether on public transport, at work or in a supermarket, it is likely that you will have noticed an increased number of people coughing and sneezing all around you. Perhaps you have been fortunate to have avoided these illnesses so far, but there is little doubt that Winter is a time when many of us are struck down by various sickness bugs.
Some of these bugs can make us feel quite ill and reluctant to come up from underneath the duvet. It is important that we take care of ourselves when we are ill like this, with suitable rest. It is also important to be aware of the effect that illnesses like these can have on your oral health.
Colds and viruses can also have an immediate effect on our teeth and you may find that your teeth are causing you some discomfort. This is most likely caused by a buildup of pressure in the sinuses and other affected areas. There is usually no need to seek dental attention for this, but if you are concerned about any pain, the Cygnet Dental Practice is only a quick ‘phone call away.
As some of our Wickford patients will know if they have read our previous blogs, dehydration can have a negative effect on our teeth and gums, especially if this happens over an extended period of time. Saliva is important as it washes away bacteria and food particles from our mouths. Without it, bacteria thrive; some of which may contribute to problems like gum disease. Because we sneeze a lot when we have a cold, we lose fluids that way as well as sometimes not drinking enough if it is too much effort to get up from bed or the sofa. Although the saying that drinking water flushes the viruses from your system has been challenged, there is little doubt that it will make us feel better and is also good for our mouth health.
However difficult it may seem, do try to drink plenty of fluids, and especially water, whilst you are ill.
If we are coughing and sneezing, it is probably unlikely that we will enthusiastically head to the kitchen to chop vegetables and prepare a healthy meal. It is far more likely that we will look in the fridge or freezer for an easy to prepare convenience meal. This is fine and completely understandable but do still try to eat ones that are reasonably healthy and not loaded with sugars. In fact, it often isn’t our ‘main meal’ that is the real issue when we are ill. It is the ‘comfort foods’ that we cherish. These fulfil the function of not only making us feel full without having to make an effort but they also provide comfort for us when we are feeling well below our best.
A packet (or two) of chocolate biscuits may well make us feel happier when we are lying on the sofa watching a film but foods like this are very high in sugar and also have a tendency to stick to the teeth. This, combined with a lack of fluids is bad news for our teeth and gums. We are not saying that you should deny yourself little ‘pleasures’ like this to cheer yourself up, but please do bear this in mind and try to re-establish healthy eating as soon as possible if you do stray off track
Cleaning your teeth
Finally, and probably most importantly, don’t let your teeth cleaning regime suffer when you feel ill. You may want to crawl directly from the sofa to bed at night, but however bad you feel, it is very important that you clean your teeth first. Going to bed with teeth coated in sugars and probably a very dry mouth too is a recipe for disaster. Electric toothbrushes take a lot of work out of cleaning your teeth so, however tired and exhausted you are feeling, you should be able to muster up the energy to give them a good brushing. You may not feel like it, but this one small act can make a big difference to the health of your teeth whilst you are ill.
We would also encourage patients of the Cygnet Dental Practice to continue flossing between their teeth at this time as well. It only takes a few minutes to do and is well worth the effort.
Hopefully, despite the number of bugs and viruses going around the Wickford area at this time of year, you will avoid them! If you are unlucky and don’t though, do please remember to take care of your teeth and gums as well as your general health.
Appointments for check ups or treatment can be made by calling us on 01268 733078.