Your Guide to Orthodontics When You’re Sick

Did you get your flu shot this year? It’s the cold season in Memphis, and our orthodontic patients are doing everything they can to avoid getting sick. Despite our best efforts, some of us are bound to catch a cold or virus this year, so it’s important to know how to take care of yourself and your orthodontic appliance if it happens. Like always, your team of experts at Saddle Creek Orthodontics is here to help: here’s your guide to orthodontics when you’re sick. 

Tip #1: Drink Water

Whether you have a stomach virus or a cold, staying hydrated should always be your first line of defense against illness. However, when you have braces, it becomes even more important to drink plenty of water to keep your body – and teeth – healthy and clean. 

Many cold symptoms, like having a stuffy nose, can lead to mouth-breathing, which can dry out your mouth and make you more susceptible to cavities. Drinking water replenishes these fluids that keep your body running smoothly, so you don’t have to worry about developing a toothache on top of your other symptoms.

Water also helps to rinse out your mouth, getting rid of bad bacteria and gunk that might build up while you’re feeling out of sorts. Take a stomach virus, for example. Vomiting may leave stomach acid on the back of your teeth, and this residue could lead to enamel erosion. Drinking more water helps you rinse this acid off, so your teeth can withstand the risk of cavities. 

Tip #2: Use a Salt Water Rinse

Gargling with salt water is an old-fashioned cure for all kinds of ailments, from ulcers to sore throats. That’s because it kills bad bacteria at the back of the throat and tongue. Swishing salt water can alleviate any pain you’re feeling and reduce bacteria that cause plaque buildup – that’s a win-win situation. 

Your Guide to Orthodontics When You're SickTip #3: Keep Brushing Your Teeth

Staying home from work or school and laying in bed is one of the best ways to fight off sickness, but the Saddle Creek Orthodontics team recommends making a point to get up twice a day to brush your teeth. Sticking to your regular oral hygiene routine ensures that plaque never has a chance to build up on those pearly whites. 

Having braces means additional space for bad bacteria to form and hide, so forgetting to brush increases your risk of developing cavities. Similarly, wearing clear aligners over your teeth without brushing traps these bacteria inside the trays, making it impossible for water to rinse away excess sugars. To avoid cavities, you have to stick to your regular routine, even when you’re cozy in bed and don’t feel like getting up. Your oral health will thank you!

Tip #4: Stay Away from Sugar

You’d be surprised how much sugar you consume when you’re sick, but think about it: how often do you reach for a ginger ale to calm a stomach ache or a cough drop to soothe your throat? While these quick fixes are good for easing symptoms, they aren’t good for your braces or clear aligners. 

Sugary foods and beverages can leave a film on your teeth that attracts bad bacteria. This bacteria produces acid that wears away the enamel on your teeth and produces cavities. When you have braces, there is much more surface area in your mouth for these bacteria to cling to, so avoiding sugar is your best bet. 

Instead, stick with water or sugar-free cough drops. These healthier alternatives will help you feel better without risking your oral health. 

Tip #5: Shop for a Toothbrush Replacement

Dr. Kyle and Dr. John recommend using your toothbrush for a max of three months, even when you aren’t sick. However, because brushing your teeth while under the weather can leave bacteria on your toothbrush, it’s important for orthodontic patients to find a new one as soon as they’re feeling better. 

When you’re sick, bad bacteria builds up in your mouth more rapidly than when you are healthy. This bacteria winds up on your toothbrush, and trust us: that’s not a tool you’ll want to use when you feel better again. Buy a replacement toothbrush head or new toothbrush entirely as soon as possible to stay healthy once you’re back on your game. 

Tip #6: Keep Your Hands Clean

This may be a common health tip, but keeping your hands clean as an Invisalign patient is essential. Because you remove your aligner trays to eat and brush your teeth, your hands are always around your mouth, and they’re one of the biggest germ transmitters there are. If you’re sick, it’s time to be extra careful with your aligners. 

Wash your hands with hot soapy water before and after removing or replacing your trays. You might also consider using a paper towel or gloves to cover your hands during this process. Doing so will ensure you heal faster and stay healthier longer. 

Tip #7: Reschedule Your Appointment

Although we always love to see your smiling faces, it’s a good idea to stay at home if you’re feeling sick. Just call our office to let us know what’s going on, and we’ll help you reschedule your appointment as soon as you feel better. 

Your Guide to Orthodontics When You're SickWe Hope You Feel Better Soon!

It’s no fun being sick, but with these tips for taking care of your teeth, you’ll feel better in no time. Don’t forget to call us if you have any questions while you’re out of commission – we’re always here to help!

If you haven’t started orthodontic treatment yet, now’s the time! With two convenient locations in Germantown and Collierville and a wide range of treatment plans for every need, we’re making Memphis smile one tooth at a time. Schedule your free consult with Dr. Kyle or Dr. John today!