It’s that time of year when everyone starts coughing and sniffling, and you’re paranoid that your child is going to get sick. If they do, you’re understandably more worried about their fever going down that you are about making sure their teeth stay in good shape. But did you know that having a cold or the flu can actually hurt your little one’s pearly whites? Here are five flu season tips from a dentist on how to make sure this sickness doesn’t harm your child’s teeth.
1. Make Sure They Brush Their Teeth Well
You already know that when you’re sick, it can be hard to find the energy to do the most basic of tasks, like brushing and flossing. However, you’ve got to instill in your child that cleaning their teeth is essential, no matter how bad they’re feeling. Make sure they spend at least two full minutes brushing every morning and every night.
2. Keep Them Hydrated
When your son or daughter is sick, they need to drink plenty of fluids to help fight the infection. If your child can’t breathe through their nose properly, they might get dry mouth, a condition where the mouth doesn’t have enough saliva. This increases the risk for cavities and gum infections. Make sure your child loads up on water and soup.
3. Toss Their Old Toothbrush
As soon as your little one starts feeling better, replace their toothbrush. Using an old one later when they’re well could re-infect them down the road.
4. Have Them Gargle with Saltwater
Let a tablespoon of salt dissolve in an eight-ounce glass of water. Have your child gargle and spit until the solution is gone. This helps reduce the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth and throat, and cuts down on the effects of bad breath and dental plaque.
5. Choose Sugar-Free Medication
A lot of cough drops and liquid cold medications are loaded with sugar to make them taste better. Even when paired with medication, this amount of sugar is detrimental to your child’s pearly whites. Look for cold medicines that are sweetened with xylitol or another sugar substitute. If you can’t find any, at least have your child brush their teeth afterwards.
About the Author
Dr. Lily is a Board-Certified pediatric dentist who earned her dental degree at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, CA. Now she practices at Shiny Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in Garland, TX. She has a special passion for working with children, particularly kids with special needs. For more tips on how to keep your little one’s teeth healthy, click here to visit Dr. Lily’s website.