In the year that Covid-19 dominated our lives, the last thing you might be worried about is your son or daughter catching a cold. But even a small cold can increase your child’s risk of oral health problems like cavities. In this blog post, a children’s dentist in South Windsor shares five tips for keeping your kid’s teeth healthy during the cold and flu season.
1. Encourage Them to Keep Brushing
When your little one is sick, it’s important that they get as much rest as they can. However, make sure they still take the time to brush their teeth every morning and every night. Not only can brushing clear their mouth of bacteria, but it can help your son or daughter feel more refreshed.
2. Keep an Eye Out for Dry Mouth
Unfortunately, many decongestants tend to dry out your child’s mouth. In addition to being uncomfortable, it increases their risk of bacterial buildup and tooth decay. Make sure your son or daughter sips water throughout the day.
3. Beware of Sugary Medicines
Cough drops and cough syrup are an absolute must when someone get a cold or the flu. However, these medicines are often packed with sugar. Cough syrup is usually sticky and lingers on the teeth, while cough drops stay in the mouth long enough to bathe the teeth in sugar that attracts cavity-causing bacteria. If you can’t find any sugar-free medicines, have your little one rinse their mouth with water afterward.
4. Have Them Gargle with Saltwater
Gargling with saltwater is a classic remedy for a sore throat. Let a teaspoon of salt dissolve in a glass of water and have your child gargle with it for 30 seconds once a day. The salt will kill much of the bacteria in their mouth and throat, helping them heal.
5. Once They’ve Recovered, Replace Their Toothbrush
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu and many other viruses can survive on moist surfaces like a toothbrush for up to 72 hours. While research shows that the risk of reinfection is low after they’ve recovered, it couldn’t hurt to give your child a new toothbrush just to be on the safe side.
Caring for your little one’s precious smile is important all year long, but it’s especially vital during cold and flu season. By following these tips, you can protect their pearly whites and help them get better more quickly.
About the Author
Dr. Sara Curcio graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine almost 15 years ago. She frequently volunteers her free time to Give Kids a Smile, a program for children without regular access to dental care. For more advice on taking care of your child’s smile, she can be reached through her website or by phone at (860) 644-2476.