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If you have picked up the flu or are battling a cold, you probably just want to crawl into bed or onto the couch, cover yourself with blankets, and binge-watch your favorite show until you feel like a human being again. The last thing you want to do is get out from under the covers, drag yourself to the bathroom and brush your teeth. But the truth is that no matter how the rest of you may feel, you still need to clean your teeth. And in fact, brushing your teeth may make you feel a little better, and may be a refreshing change of pace during an otherwise miserable day.

If you end up with a sore throat or a cough, you may reach for the cough syrup or cough drops. They will make you feel better, but when you are stocking up, make sure that you choose sugar-free varieties. Cough drops sit in your mouth for a long time, and if they aren’t sugar-free, you will increase your chance of cavities.

You also need to stay hydrated. Your doctor will tell you this as well, and along with helping you fight your illness, staying hydrated can prevent dry mouth, which can lead to cavities and other problems. To stay hydrated, drink water. You may want to reach for a sports drink to boost your electrolytes, but those drinks also contain sugar, which can damage your teeth. If you want a cup of tea, avoid using lemon or sugar, since that can also increase your risk of cavities.

Sometimes, the flu comes with vomiting. Vomiting means extra acids from your stomach in your mouth. If this should happen to you, rinse your mouth with a mixture of baking soda and water, and brush your teeth about 30 minutes later.

It’s important to get plenty of rest and take care of yourself when you are sick, but it is also important that you take care of your teeth. If you live in the Canton, South Dakota, area and have questions about brushing your teeth, call 605-987-2721 to schedule an appointment with our dentists, Dr. Chris Freed, Dr. Lucas Wiebe, and Dr. Laura Pranke, at Canton Dental Clinic.