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It Starts With a Smile.

How to take care of your teeth when you’re ill

The flu season is coming, as we head into the colder months of the year, it is important to understand how illness can affect your oral health, especially those who have a higher risk of infection.


Vomiting can encouraged enamel demineralisation, sometime when you are ill and unable to keep food down due to an unsettled stomach vomiting can occur. Fluids in the stomach are extremely acidic, gastric acids are pulled into the mouth and can be damaging to the enamel on your teeth. The enamel acts as a defensive layer and once worn or eroded away, decay can more easily occur.

What to do: Do not brush your teeth immediately after vomiting, as the acid sits on the teeth, brushing can exacerbate damage by scrubbing the acid into the teeth. Instead, rinse your mouth thoroughly with an alkaline solution of water and baking soda to neutralise and wash away the acid before brushing.

Spreading bacteria

Toothbrushes accumulate bacteria, saliva and blood. If you are sick and share a toothbrush cup holder with other family members, it is important to isolate the toothbrush as to lower the risk of contaminating the other brushes.

What to do: Once you feel recovered it is important to throw away your toothbrush and purchase a new, clean brush.


Staying hydrated is vital when you are ill, especially if you have been vomiting or have had a fever. The body is likely to lose fluids while fighting an infection, this means that you could be at a higher risk of dehydration or dry mouth.

A lack of saliva can increase your risk of dental decay and gingivitis. Saliva normally sits in the mouth to buffer and wash away any food particles and acids. It is important to drink plenty of water whilst you are sick to avoid dehydration.


Cough drops are meant to help calm your cough and soothe your throat, but they do so at the expensive of your teeth. High levels of sugar slowly dissolve into the mouth allowing bacteria to thrive whilst you are ill. Cough syrups are filled with sucrose and glucose liquids if required should never be left in the mouth before going to bed. It is important to always brush the teeth at night even after consuming any medication.

What to do: Be on the lookout for sugar-free cough lozenges if required through the day.

Whilst you are sick it is important to slow down and take proper care of yourself. We hope this information has been useful for maintaining your oral health through the winter months.