Your Guide to Orthodontics When You’re Sick

It’s a fact of life – the seasons will change, the gas prices will go up and down, and, sometimes, you’re gonna get sick. At Wiesemann Orthodontics, we get it. It happens.  

But just because you’re under the weather, that doesn’t mean your orthodontic health has to suffer. In fact, provided you follow a few simple tips, your smile will stay right on track just as you and Dr. Wiesemann have planned it. So take a second, get some chicken soup, and hunker down – here is your guide to orthodontics when you’re sick!

Tip #1: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

When you have braces, it is much more critical to remain hydrated, whether you have a stomach virus or a cold. Staying hydrated is your first line of defense against sickness. You need to drink plenty of water to keep your body and teeth healthy and clean. Cold symptoms such as congestion can lead to mouth-breathing. This can, in turn, 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 rinses out your mouth, getting rid of bad bacteria and gunk that may build up while you’re feeling unwell.

For example, vomiting during a stomach virus can leave stomach acid on the back of your teeth, leading to enamel erosion. Drinking more water can help you rinse this acid off, so your teeth can withstand the risk of cavities.

Tip #2: Use a Salt Water Rinse

Swishing salt water can help kill bad bacteria at the back of your throat and tongue, making it an excellent remedy for all sorts of ailments, from ulcers to sore throats. A saltwater rinse can alleviate any pain you’re experiencing and reduce the bacteria that cause plaque buildup, which is a win-win situation.

Tip #3: Don’t Skip Your Oral Hygiene Routine

When you’re feeling unwell, staying home from school or work and staying in bed is one of the best ways to fight off illness. However, the team at Wiesemann Orthodontics recommends getting up twice a day to brush your teeth to ensure that plaque never has a chance to build up on your teeth. Braces provide additional space for harmful bacteria to form and hide, so forgetting to brush your teeth increases your risk of developing cavities.

Similarly, clear aligners worn over your teeth without brushing trap harmful bacteria inside the trays, making it impossible for water to rinse away excess sugars. To avoid cavities, 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: Steer Clear of Sugary Treats

You’d be amazed at 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 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 to 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. Wiesemann recommends using your toothbrush for a maximum 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 build 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. Buying a replacement toothbrush head or new toothbrush entirely can help you stay healthy once you’re back on your game.

Your Guide to Orthodontics When You're Sick

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. 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.

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There you have it…your guide to orthodontics when you’re sick. Have more questions? Your friendly neighborhood ortho team is here to answer them! Whether you’re in Bowling Green, White House, Russellville, or Portland, we think of our patients as family. So don’t hesitate to use us as a resource. Feel better soon!