Have you had a dental check-up after the winter?
Telltale signs you’re due for a check-up
This year many of us have had personal experience of succumbing to one of a number of flu viruses. Of course, when we’re sick, the priority is to recover as soon as possible and limit the risk of others catching whatever we have. But it’s also important to think about the potential effects that being sick may have on our oral health and to make an appointment with your dentist to make sure your teeth and gums remain healthy.
What can happen to your teeth when you have the flu?
- Toothache- It’s common to experience toothache when you have the flu as congestion and pressure in the sinuses build up. One typical sign of flu-related toothache, rather than a genuine toothache, is that the pain is not limited to just one tooth. Most commonly the upper teeth are affected by sinus congestion, especially the back teeth which are closest to the sinuses. Sinus-related pain can be very uncomfortable, especially when it’s not responding to pain-relieving medications and interrupting sleep.
- Nasal congestion- As nasal congestion limits normal breathing through the nose, the only alternative is to breathe through the mouth, which commonly leads to a dry mouth and reduced saliva flow.
- Dry mouth- Saliva is often referred to as a ‘buffer’, helping to prevent tooth decay and keep the oral membranes moist. Apart from feeling unpleasant, dry mouth can also increase the risk of bacterial growth which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. It can also affect chewing and swallowing, making it more difficult to obtain the nutrients from foods needed to recover . Many cold and flu medications also contribute to mouth dryness.
How long should I wait to have my dental check-up after having the flu?
It’s important to see your dentist every 6 months, or more often if advised. After recovering from the flu, it’s a good idea to book a dental check-up to ensure that there are no long-lasting effects on your oral health. Let the receptionist know that you’ve been unwell when you book your appointment. The surgery may recommend a clearance time after you’ve recovered, just to ensure there is no risk of passing on germs.
Our top tips to care for your oral health when you’re unwell
- Keep your toothbrush separate from other family members. Replace your toothbrush with a new one once you’ve recovered.
- Keep up your usual toothbrushing habits when you’re sick. Brush twice each day, for two minutes, and use fluoridated toothpaste. Don’t forget to floss and care well for your gums.
- Drink lots of water and avoid sipping on sugary or acidic drinks.
- Eat a balanced diet that will support your immune system to help your recovery.
- Sleep, rest and care well for yourself.
If you’ve been unwell with the flu this year and haven’t visited the dentist, book an appointment so you can stay on top of your oral health.