It’s the time of year that everyone dreads – flu season. During the winter months, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter months. According to the CDC, flu activity peaks between December and February, and can sometimes even last until May.

While nursing yourself back to health from this serious sickness, it’s important to remember to take care of all aspects of your health while sick, especially your teeth. Using the right products and taking the correct precautions will not only help you recover from the flu faster but also ensure that your dental health stays intact in the future. Here are a few tips on how to take care of your teeth while you’re sick.

Use Sugar-Free Cough Drops

While fun flavors such as strawberry or bubblegum can make taking medicine feel like less of a chore, these sugary cough drops and syrups can hurt you in the long run. Packed with artificial sweeteners, medicine that relies on this additive to make it more appealing can ultimately cause tooth decay and harm your gums. Opt for medicine that is made with sugar alternatives such as xylitol or sucralose. If a sugar-free alternative is not an option, be sure to brush and rinse your teeth after you take your dose.

Rinse Your Mouth After Vomiting

Unfortunately, a common side effect of the stomach flu is vomiting. Before you rush to your sink to brush your teeth, it might be better to wait. While you’re vomiting, your stomach acids are coming in coating your teeth, which can damage your enamel. If you brush right after, you’ll be spreading the acid over the outer shell of your teeth and causing more damage.

Instead, swish with water, an alcohol-free mouthwash, or a small amount of baking soda to help wash the acid away. After waiting for about 30 minutes, it will be safe to go in with your toothbrush.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking lots of fluids is critical while your sick as there is a higher risk of becoming dehydrated. From losing electrolytes and other nutrients through vomiting to getting a dry mouth, drinking plenty of water will help keep your saliva flowing. While dry mouth can be uncomfortable, it can also put you at a greater risk for cavities.

Replace Your Toothbrush

As your nearing the end of your sickness, it’s important to remember to change out your toothbrush after you’re back in good health. Dental health professionals, such as the Phoenix special needs dentists at Dental on Central, typically recommend changing your toothbrush every three months, but replacing it after you get better can prevent any lingering germs from reinfecting you.

Let’s face it – no one likes to be bedridden with the flu or a cold. Being seriously ill can cause people to lose focus and be less strict about taking care of other parts of their lives and health. Fortunately, taking care of your teeth while you’re under the weather doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. Small steps such as staying hydrated and brushing properly can help save your smile for the future.