Have you been waking up with terrible bad breath or a scratchy throat? Or maybe you wake up feeling like your mouth has been packed with cotton. Cold and flu season is here, and these are all common signs of a long seasonal illness that can affect your oral health.
There’s a close connection between your oral and overall health. Your mouth sometimes shows the earliest signs of disease, and poor dental health contributes to your risk of illness and chronic disease. Here at Jessica Pandich, DDS, in Midtown Manhattan, we do our best to help you stay healthy, starting with your teeth, gums, and other tissue in your mouth.
Let’s explore the connection between your oral and overall health.
How seasonal illnesses affect your oral health
The common cold and flu both cause congestion, which can cause oral health issues like sore throats, dry mouth, and even tooth pain. Mouth-breathing and post-nasal drip can dry out your mouth.
Saliva is critical to controlling the bacteria in your mouth, so when you breathe through your mouth, whether you’re awake or asleep, you potentially increase your risk of cavities. In addition to mouth-breathing, congestion can also trigger post-nasal drip, allowing mucus to drip down the back of your throat from your sinuses. This deposits bacteria in your throat, contributing to inflammation and pain.
Nasal and sinus congestion also cause swelling, which can put pressure on the nerves in your mouth and cause tooth or jaw pain.
Oral signs of other diseases
Dr. Pandich might also spot the first signs of other diseases during your dental check-up. Severe periodontitis (gum disease) can be a symptom of other conditions such as diabetes. Alternatively, candida infections in your mouth could indicate HIV or another autoimmune problem.
Take care of your teeth to take care of your health
Fortunately, taking care of your oral and dental health can make a difference in your overall health. If you have a cold or the flu, make sure to brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day. This helps keep the bacteria in your mouth under control and can alleviate some side effects of congestion such as bad breath and dry mouth.
You should also gargle with warm salt water or an antibacterial mouthwash a couple of times a day. This step can also reduce the bacteria in your mouth and throat and potentially relieve inflammation and pain.
Make sure to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day. It helps keep your mouth moist while also hydrating your body. A fever can contribute to dehydration, which exacerbates fatigue and body aches.
When possible, you could also consider sugar-free medications or brush your teeth after taking medication. Many cough syrups and drinkable cold and flu medicines are full of sugar to make them more palatable. But how many times have you taken a dose of cough syrup before taking a nap or going to bed? Going to sleep with sugar coating your teeth is a recipe for tooth decay.
If you have a cold or the flu, stay at home, rest, and take care of yourself. Dr. Pandich and her team will be happy to see you when you’re feeling better. You can call our office or use the online booking tool to make or reschedule an appointment.