We all know that a common cold can make us feel miserable. We may have symptoms like a runny nose, coughing, and fatigue. None of this is on any of our lists for a good day. However, did you know that a common cold can also have an impact on your oral health? In fact, there are many unexpected ways that a cold can affect your teeth and gums.
Dry Mouth and Decreased Saliva
When you have a cold, you might notice that your mouth feels dry. This dryness is often due to mouth breathing, as congested nasal passages can make breathing through your nose difficult.
When your mouth becomes dry, there is a reduction in saliva production. Saliva is crucial for maintaining oral health. This is because it helps to rinse away bacteria and food particles. As a result, saliva production helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Medications and Dry Mouth
Over-the-counter cold medications, such as decongestants and antihistamines, can have side effects like dry mouth. Dry mouth caused by medications can create an environment that’s more conducive to bacteria growth. This can potentially lead to bad breath, cavities, and gum problems.
Increased Cough Drops and Sugar Intake
To ease cold symptoms like coughing and a sore throat, many people turn to cough drops or lozenges. While these can provide temporary relief, they often contain high levels of sugar.
Frequently eating sugary cough drops can lead to tooth decay. To reduce the impact, opt for sugar-free cough drops. Alternatively, you can rinse your mouth with water after using sugary lozenges.
Cough Syrup’s Hidden Sugar
Cough syrup is another common remedy during a cold. But, many cough syrups contain added sugars. Be sure to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth after taking cough syrup to minimize its impact on your oral health.
Unhealthy Comfort Foods
When we don’t feel good, we want to do what we can to feel better. Comfort foods like ice cream and soft drinks might be your go-to when you’re under the weather.
Unfortunately, these sugary choices can be harmful to your teeth. Try to balance comfort foods with healthier options. Once again, rinse your mouth with water afterward.
Reduced Energy for Oral Care
When you’re suffering from a cold, you might feel too tired or unwell to maintain your regular oral care routine. Skipping brushing and flossing can allow harmful bacteria to thrive in your mouth. It’s essential to make an extra effort to maintain your oral hygiene during this time, even if it feels hard.
Mouth Breathing and Tooth Sensitivity
Mouth breathing during a cold can contribute to tooth sensitivity. The flow of dry air over your teeth can lead to discomfort, especially if you have sensitive teeth. Using a humidifier in your room can help maintain moisture in the air. As a result, it can help resolve this issue. It can even help other issues with a cold, such as sinus congestion.
Sinus Congestion and Toothache
Sinus congestion is a frequent symptom of a cold. Interestingly, it can sometimes lead to what’s known as a “referred toothache.” The pressure from sinus congestion can make your upper teeth feel sensitive or painful. If you experience this, consult a healthcare provider to address both your cold and toothache.