Influenza, or “the flu,” is a common ailment among Americans during the fall and winter months (although sometimes flu season varies) that brings on various debilitating symptoms. The flu is especially dangerous to those over 65 years of age, people who are immuno-compromised and children, as the risks for complications are greatly increased among those individuals. Furthermore, the flu doesn’t just affect your nose, eyes, ears, throat and sinuses it also affects other important parts of the body like the mouth!
Flu season oral health prevention tips
It’s easy to forget about your child’s dental health when you’re focused on keeping them healthy overall. Yet, if your child starts developing cavities while they’re sick, they will feel even worse. Therefore, try some of the following tips with your kids to help prevent oral health complications this flu season:
- Practice overall dental hygiene: Since germs commonly enter the body through our mouths, it’s important to be diligent about your child’s oral hygiene, especially with kids who are still learning and forming habits.
- Prevent the spread of germs via saliva: Don’t share any sort of drink, toothbrush, or eating utensil with your child! Even if you don’t feel sick, you are still sharing germs and putting your child’s health at risk.
- Avoid sugar to prevent cavities: Always use sugar-free cough drops to prevent tooth decay! Just because they are “sugar free” doesn’t mean they aren’t sweetened with a sugar alcohol (maintains sweetness without the negative health effects of real sugar) and well-liked by many kids.
- Prevent dry mouth (which leads to tooth decay): Maintain constant hydration—using water (only use electrolyte solutions when they are recommended by a pediatrician). One reason for this is because electrolyte drinks tend to be high in sugar which can cause cavities.
- Keep tooth enamel strong and healthy: If your child is vomiting, make sure they are rinsing their mouth with water after vomiting to prevent acid wear and enamel erosion on their teeth. It’s important to wait 20 minutes after vomiting to brush teeth, because brushing right away will worsen enamel erosion.
Tips for healthy recovery during flu season
If your child has contracted the flu, use some of the following tips to help ensure a healthy and speedy overall recovery:
- When your child is no longer contagious, dispose of the toothbrush they were using. This will help prevent your child from re-infecting themselves with a germ-filled toothbrush.
- Encourage hand washing, using tissues, and covering the mouth and nose with an arm when sneezing to prevent the spread of germs! Even if your child is feeling better, they may still be contagious.
- Allow ample time for rest to allow the body to conserve its energy to fight the flu.
- Administer children’s over-the-counter cold medications as needed to relieve symptoms.
As long as you follow the pediatrician’s advice and use the aforementioned tips, both you and your child can help stop the spread of germs this flu season! Advanced Children’s Dentistry is a full service pediatric dental practice on Long Island where our pedodontist, Dr. Sybil Padavathil offers a fun and educational experience for all of her little patients. Schedule a pediatric dental appointment at 516-758-KIDS.