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Cold and flu season is here, and it is affecting many people. Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall out of the habit of taking care of your teeth when you’re feeling under the weather. With these tips, your smile can stay strong throughout your illness.

The first tip seems obvious, but it is very important: make sure you keep brushing and flossing, even while you are sick. When you are ill, it is more important than ever to keep germs and infection away from teeth. The addition of certain medications to your routine could also increase your risk for gum disease or enamel erosion.

Second, consider this: the flu virus can live on surfaces, such as toothbrushes, for up to 72 hours. If your immune system is strong, you probably won’t reinfect yourself. If your brush is around other brushes, however, they could touch and cross-contaminate. Some people decide to throw away their toothbrush or electric toothbrush head after being sick. This may be a good option for your particular situation, as well.

If your illness includes vomiting, keep some sugar-free gum on hand. The acids from your stomach temporarily soften tooth enamel. This means that if you brush your teeth–a naturally abrasive action–right after you throw up, you run the risk of doing serious damage to your tooth enamel and opening the teeth up for infection and cavities. Instead, chew a piece of sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production for 20 minutes before brushing.

For more information, call Family Dentistry, Inc. in Lebanon, Ohio, at 513-932-6991. Drs. Haas, Burns and Haas are happy to help you!