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Ask anyone who's been sick, and they'll almost all agree that the number one thing they are looking for is relief, especially during cold and flu season. In 2018, Chattanoogans have seen one of the worst flu seasons yet with exponential numbers of cases coming in to the doctor's office each week. But, did you know it's important to address your oral health if you get knocked down by the flu or a cold? Drs. Robert and Mandy Shearer at Soddy Daisy Smiles say that taking care of your mouth and teeth can actually aid in your overall recovery and provide some much needed relief. 

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Drs. Robert and Mandy Shearer

"You have to take care of you mouth all the time, but even more so if you get sick," Dr. Mandy said. "You don't want to create a harbor for those harmful germs and bacteria."

First, just like any other time, patients should practice good hygiene and avoid sharing dental products, especially toothbrushes. Those harmful germs can live on moist surface for about 72 hours so sharing can allow for spread quickly. Dr. Robert added that once you're well, you don't necessarily have to throw out your toothbrush, unless it's already been about three or four months since you had a new one.

"Unless you had something particularly catching, it's not likely you'll reinfect yourself, but if you have a concern or just aren't sure, you can toss the old toothbrush and opt for a new one," he said.

A biggie to watch for, according to Dr. Mandy, is checking to make sure of the ingredients in your cough drops. 

"While I know many are just looking for relief from that ever annoying cough that drags on, make sure you read the labels and opt for sugar free cough drops," she explained. "Many of them contain sugar and it's just like sucking on candy, and it will create an ideal condition for cavities to set up and form."

Taking in plenty of fluids is also key in keeping your oral health and overall health up to par when you're batting the flu or a cold. Hydrating not only helps your body, but it prevents dry mouth which can not only be uncomfortable and add to the misery of the illness, but again set up for cavities to come in.

"Make sure to choose the right fluids too," Dr. Robert added. "Water is always the best thing, but if you're looking to add electrolytes, be careful not to go for the super-sugary sports drinks."

Another easy way to get quick relief when you're sick is gargling with warm salt water. 

"This can help cut down the bacteria that builds up during sickness, and it relieves bad breath and plaque build up on your teeth," Dr. Mandy said. 

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Finally, the symptom that probably causes the most trouble and is the most difficult to combat with flu or cold is vomiting. It's no secret that, that alone can reek havoc on your teeth with the stomach acid that accompanies the discomfort in your mouth. Dr. Robert cautioned that while many want to brush immediately after, it's actually better to wait and swish and spit with water and a small mixture of baking soda to remove any stomach acid from the mouth.

"If you brush right away, you just move that acid all across your teeth and that will do more harm than good in the long run," he said.

MORE INFORMATION

For more information on how to combat dental trouble during the cold and flu season or to schedule an appointment, call Soddy-Daisy Smiles at 423-332-5275 or visit soddydaisysmiles.com. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Soddy-Daisy Smiles at 423-332-5275 or visit soddydaisysmiles.com.

Noteworthy:

"You have to take care of you mouth all the time, but even more so if you get sick. You don't want to create a harbor for those harmful germs and bacteria."

                               - Mandy Shearer

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