I am proud to say that I have all my own teeth at the age of 65. While that may not sound unusual to some people, everyone in my family who is my age or older wears dentures. I always tell people that that flossing is the key to good dental health. I have arthritis in my hands, but I don't let it keep me from flossing every day. My trick is to use those little "flossers" you can buy at the drug store. They have plastic handles floss stretched out on top of the handle. These make flossing easier on days when my arthritis is acting up. I started this blog to let other people know that they can keep their teeth healthy into old age when they take care of them. If you have hand pain, find ways to make flossing easier, like I did.
Colds stink, but sometimes you just have to deal with them. It can be tempting to pass on the tooth care during this time, partly (and understandably) because you just want to stay in bed and rest, but also because the idea of sticking a toothbrush into your mouth, which has seen more than its share of coughs, isn't very appealing. You should still take care of your teeth, and here's what to do as you get through that awful cold.
Keep Brushing and Flossing
Steel yourself and drag yourself out of bed to brush and floss your teeth. Your mouth will feel better and less like a germ factory. You may want to brush and floss a little more gently than normal just because you're likely sensitive to everything right now. Plus, you don't want to accidentally start your gums bleeding even a little when you have a cold. It's rare, but cold germs can get into the wound and into your bloodstream, causing further infection.
Take Proper Medications
Decongestants let you breathe through your nose instead of your mouth, reducing the incidence of dry mouth, which can help bacteria grow. Also take antihistamines when appropriate (such as before sleeping, but not before you have to drive anywhere!) so that you're not constantly sniffling and trying to breathe through your mouth then, either.
Maybe Avoid the Mouthwash
If you normally use an alcohol-based mouthwash, you might want to hold off on that while you're sick. Alcohol can further dry out your mouth (and it's not really going to do much to combat your cold virus), making you more uncomfortable and again increasing dry mouth.
Change Your Toothbrush, or Not
It turns out that you don't have to change your toothbrush after you get a cold because you're not that likely to catch the same cold again. However, changing your toothbrush can make you feel better psychologically, so if you want to, get a clean toothbrush when you recover.
Water All the Time
Stay hydrated. This is so important so that you don't end up with further infections that could make it harder to brush your teeth. Water is best; herbal tea is also good, but sodas, coffee, and sugar-filled tea are not suitable choices. Plus, extra sugar not only increases the bacteria in your mouth, but it can also make your mouth and throat feel rather weird and unpleasant, like they've been coated in something. If you really need flavor or something substantial, go for warm broth.
Contact your dentist if you start to experience tooth or gum problems after the cold is gone; again, problems like these stemming from colds are rare, but mouth pain isn't something to ignore.