Cold and Flu Season Impact On Oral Health

Cold and Flu Season Impact On Oral Health

Cold and flu viruses affect your oral health

Flu and cold viruses are a part of life. We wash our hands, take vitamins, and try to stay healthy, inevitably the average adult will still get 2 to 4 colds per year. The full magnitude of the annual cold and flu season is often overlooked. However, in America, the cold virus alone, claims nearly 60 million sick days annually.

Viral infections and your oral health

  • Dry Mouth: Cold viruses, and many other viruses, dry out the oral cavity. The use of many medications that suppress runny noses and excess mucus, also contribute to drier mucus membranes. Many drugs may ultimately leave the mouth drier. Dry mouths are less slippery, allowing bacterial colonies to thrive.
    • Breathing from the mouth due to swollen, congested nasal passages also dries the oral membranes contributing further to dry mouth, and bad breath.
    • Individuals suffering from flu and cold viruses are especially prone to dehydration complicating dry mouth conditions.
  • Cough Drops and Medications: Sucking on cough drops, sipping ginger ale, even oral inhalers all adversely affect teeth and surrounding tissues.
    • Cough drops and throat lozenges, even cough syrup, are sticky and sweet. Sugar from these medications feed bacteria that cause decay and cavities.
    • Ginger ale and other fizzy drinks help with dehydration and nausea, they also create prime conditions for bacteria to thrive in.
    • Inhalers, used to help treat asthma, bronchitis, lung inflammation and COPD have medicine that dries surfaces in the mouth, creating areas ideal for bacteria to colonize.
    • To ward off the effects of these oral medications, rinse your mouth and brush your teeth after using them.  Stay adequately hydrated.
  • Fatigue: Being over tired, lethargic and general malaise are all common symptoms when battling a cold or flu virus. Forgo changing out of Pj’s but do not skip oral hygiene practices. Viruses attack the immunes system, dampening your body’s natural ability to combat infection and inflammation.
    • Sleep deprivation is a huge contributing factor in cases of gum disease and gingivitis. Don’t let being too tired influence your ability to maintain good brushing and flossing habits.

Good Oral Health Supports Good Overall Health

Recent studies support what clinicians have long suspected. Individuals who have unhealthy teeth and gums, tend to be less healthy overall. Higher rates of oral infections are linked to higher rates of bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, stroke and heart disease, for example.

The ideal time to improve your oral health is right now, but if you are sick or feeling under the weather, don’t neglect taking care of your oral hygiene.

Call or come in and make an appointment today and we can help you get your best oral health, and your brightest smile.

 

Healthy Mouths Are Juicy

Healthy Mouths Are Juicy

Healthy mouths are juicy

Millions of Americans experience dry mouth often enough for it to affect their oral health. Dry mouth, also called Xerostomia, is the result of not having enough saliva in your mouth. Having less saliva in the mouth may be only slightly noticeable or extremely uncomfortable depending on the severity and duration of the condition.

  • A dry, sticky feeling in the mouth
    • Or food clinging to teeth or the roof of mouth
  • Dry nasal passages, a dry or hoarse throat
  • Excess or frequent thirst
  • Trouble tasting, chewing or swallowing
  • Sores in the mouth or dry cracked lips
  • Burning tongue or tingling sensation

These are some of the most common symptoms associated with dry mouth. Besides being uncomfortable, prolonged or frequent, dry mouth increase the incidence of gingivitis, tooth decay and mouth infections.

It’s bad to get dry

  • Less saliva makes mouths more acidic
    • Acidic saliva creates the ideal condition for bacterial growth
  • Without enough saliva to dilute the acid teeth are weakened and easily attacked by bacteria
    • The constant increased acid makes teeth more susceptible to decay
  • Less saliva, means more chewing to make food easier to swallow
    • More chewing means more wear and tear on teeth
  • Remineralizing teeth with healthy foods and strengthening enamel can only happen if there is adequate saliva in the mouth.
    • Dry mouth prevents remineralization

With hundreds of things that contribute to dry mouth, individuals may experience multiple conditions that add to the likelihood of having dry mouth. With over 500 types of medications potentially creating or adding to the condition of dry mouth, learn as much as you can to keep your teeth as healthy as possible.

Some of the most common causes:

  • Medications, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and certain drugs all are common culprits of dry mouth
  • Medical conditions like lupus, diabetes, sjogren’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and several other conditions are also associated with significantly elevated risk of dry mouth
  • Nerve conditions or nerve problems
  • Salivary duct obstruction
  • Normal changes associated with changes in hormones
    • Especially related to pregnancy or menopause
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol and excess caffeine intake
  • Inadequate hydration
  • Age
    • It’s common as people age for the mouth to be more prone to xerostomia

What can you do?

Get juicy

Get juicy and crunchy! The best ways to combat a dry mouth include increasing your hydration efforts and snacking on things that naturally help the mouth create more saliva. Sugar free candy or gum are handy for between meals, road trips, and times when you may not be able to sip on extra water.  Juicy snacks like apples and fruit are an excellent source of mouth hydrating juices, plus the crunchy fruits and veggies help dislodge detris and bacteria from teeth surfaces.

Get enough water

Staying hydrated, can drastically help combat the effects of dry mouth. Slippery saliva coats teeth, carries minerals that help strengthen enamel, dislodges food particles, rinses away bacteria, and dilutes acids in the mouth. Double check that you’re getting enough water. Various studies recommend 8 or more glasses a day, some newer studies suggest converting total body weight to ounces and drinking 2/3rds of that volume daily, adding more in hot or humid climates, and up to 11 additional ounces per thirty minutes of vigorous exercise.

Get in touch

Make sure and discuss dry mouth with your dentist. Your dentist can pay close attention to prevalence of changes associated with dry mouth and make suggestions that are most likely to improve the condition.  Discuss symptoms with your regular practitioner to make sure medications you are using aren’t contributing to the problems and if they are your doctor can help you weigh the pros and cons and if other choices are available.

Is Dry Mouth Affecting You?

Is Dry Mouth Affecting You?

Dry Mouth can affect chewing, swallowing and the health of your entire mouth.

Dry Mouth can affect chewing, swallowing and the health of your entire mouth.

Causing difficult or embarrassing situations for you? Dry Mouth symptoms can make eating, swallowing, even tasting hard to accomplish. Dry Mouth leaves the mouth with not enough saliva. Slippery saliva is the key to a healthy mouth but it also helps you taste, chew and digest food. Without saliva, a nice dinner can become a task more challenging than enjoyable. Saliva lubricates and protects your mouth from infection, protects your teeth from the acids in food and aid in predigestion. Reduced saliva flow can lead to damaged mouth tissue and contribute to both dental decay and bad breath. Severe symptoms of Dry Mouth are the reason that Xerostomia treatment is crucial to both good oral health and good overall health, further more reducing the symptoms of Dry Mouth just makes life more  comfortable.

 

Dry mouth or  Xerostomia, is the result of not having enough saliva in your mouth.

How Do You Know You Have Dry Mouth?

It’s somewhat normal as we age to experience both a reduction in saliva, even in our tear production. The symptoms of Dry Mouth may be slight or gradual in onset. If any of these symptoms seem to apply to you, starting treatment, addressing it now can prevent the damage associated with prolonged persistent Xerostomia.

  • Food sticking to the top of your mouth
  • Food clinging to teeth and crevices more than normal
  • Dry lips
  • Cracked corners of the lips
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Saliva that seems thick and stringy
  • If you wear lipstick you may find it sticking to your teeth
  • If you find yourself subconsciously avoiding certain foods because they are hard to swallow, too dry, or you find those foods just hard to eat
  • Dry tongue and mouth impact your entire quality of life
  • You find food difficult to taste that you previously enjoyed
  • Dry throat
  • Cough
  • Hoarseness,  sore throat
  • Trouble speaking,
  • Developing mouth ulcers
  • And or due to the level of stress on the tissues in the mouth, fungal infections may become prevalent.
  • Tooth decay may become more prevalent
  • Increase of plaque and tarter may plague a severely dry mouth
  • Dry mouth at night
  • Excess thirst at night
  • Waking up in the middle of the night with dry mouth
  • As the condition progresses, if left unchecked, you may develop a “pebbled” tongue, the insides of the cheeks and gums may take on a red and shiny appearance.

The Causes of Dry Mouth

Age is the primary factor in developing Dry Mouth. Age related diseases and medications are a significant part of that equation. Some of the specific diseases that can induce Dry Mouth are Sjogren’s Syndrome, diabetes, certain types of cancers, Parkinson’s and medications associated with cancer Parkinson’s, heart disease and many many more.

While there is a drug that doctors can prescribe for extremely dry mouth called Salagen, it has it’s own set of side effects and precautions. Salagen is generally used in extreme cases and when not contraindicated from other medications. Most common reasons for the medication are usually related to diseases such as Sjogren’s. Typically over the counter oral rinses and increased water consumption, the initial response, can help improve the quality of saliva in the mouth by increasing the moisture.

What Else Can You Do

Here’s a quick list of other options to try which may help improve saliva flow:

Having adequate hydration and sufficient saliva helps create a slippery barrier to protect teeth and gums.

Having adequate hydration and sufficient saliva help create a slippery barrier to help protect teeth and gums.

  • Suck on sugar-free candy or chew sugar-free gum.
  • Drink plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist.
  • Breathe through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible.
  • Use a room vaporizer (especially while sleeping) to add moisture to the bedroom air.
  • Use an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute.

See your dentist and address this issue to make sure you are doing all you can to preserve your oral health by maintaining the proper amount of  wet and slip, slidey, slippery goodness in your mouth.

Reach us at:   Marilyn K. Jones DDS      *      Houston’s Biological Dentist *      Address: 800 Bering Dr. Suite 204    *    Phone: (713)785-7767     *     Email: mjones@hal-pc.org