Your guide to orthodontics when you’re sick

Life really is like a box of chocolates sometimes. You never know what you’re gonna get. You may enjoy great health for months and years, and then suddenly, an illness hits you or your family hard. It’s difficult to be sick and not worry about all the other responsibilities that life still has for you. That’s why Dr. McGrory and Dr. McCarty wanted to share their recommendations for how to take care of your teeth while you’re sick, so you don’t have to stress about figuring out what is most important. 

Dr. McGrory and Dr. McCarty at McGrory Orthodontics have been caring for their patient’s teeth for many years and know all the best ways to support oral health while boosting immune health, too. If you are sick this season, or you want to learn how to care for your teeth when you are sick in the future, keep on reading!

Keep your teeth clean

When you’re really sick, one of the last things on your mind is probably brushing your teeth. We totally get it, you want to preserve your energy as much as you can for the most important tasks. But we would argue that brushing your teeth is in fact one of the most important things you can do to boost your overall health when you are sick. 

The bacteria that grow and collect in your mouth are part of what is driving down your immune system and getting you sick. By ridding your mouth of bad bacteria, you can help boost your immune system and keep your teeth from decay. This is especially true if you have braces or wear a retainer. Your teeth need to be scrubbed well to prevent plaque growth around your brackets and wires, and your retainer will need to be scrubbed and sanitized well every day to avoid putting bacteria back into your mouth. 

You can clean your retainer with lukewarm water and an antibacterial solution like alcohol-free mouthwash or gentle hand soap. Scrub the retainer well with the solution and a toothbrush and then rinse. Now you’re ready to wear it again without fear of germs or grime.

Switch toothbrushes

Speaking of getting rid of bacteria, one of the places where that nasty bacteria can collect is on your toothbrush. This is why many dentists and orthodontists, Dr. McGrory and Dr. McCarty included, often recommend tossing out your current toothbrush and replacing it with a new one once you have recovered from being sick. 

The thinking here is that bacteria can collect in the bristles of your toothbrush and then reintroduce them back into your mouth, possibly causing reinfection depending on the kind of sickness and your immune system. We say it’s probably not worth taking a chance! Go ahead and switch to a new brush and enjoy that fresh, clean feeling.

Hydrate and avoid dry mouth

One of the lesser-known facts about oral health is just how bad a dry mouth is for your teeth. Your saliva is an important part of your mouth’s equilibrium, and when your mouth gets too dry, the entire ecosystem is thrown off. Saliva contains minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and fluoride that are essential for dental health and strengthen enamel, preventing excess plaque growth and tooth decay.

If your mouth is getting dry due to dehydration and even congestion that makes it difficult to breathe through your nose, we feel your pain. We recommend keeping a water bottle close by you at all times and taking consistent sips throughout the day. If you are seriously dehydrated, consider an electrolyte drink like a sports beverage or Pedialyte. Avoid alcohol and caffeine that can dehydrate you even more.

Keep the bad stuff out

By bad stuff, we mean sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and heavy, fried, or processed foods. These things can not only suppress your immune system but can be bad for your teeth when you’re already in a compromised condition. Sugar especially is known to coat the teeth and contribute to plaque growth and tooth decay or cavities.

The best way to take care of yourself is by avoiding these bad health contributors and instead focusing on staying hydrated and nourished. We recommend eating simple and digestible carbs like crackers or toast and eating soups and stews that can help replenish hydration and sodium while nourishing you. They are easy on the body and teeth.

Take care of yourself and others by staying at home

As much as we hate to say it, now is probably not the best time for you to come into our office. It’s important to us that you are well cared for, along with the rest of our patients and staff. If possible, avoid going to any scheduled appointments, including the orthodontist, and instead stay home and rest easy for a while. Just give us a quick call and we can either reschedule you or make an appointment to address whatever issues you might be having.

If you are having a true orthodontic emergency that is causing pain and distress, like a broken bracket or wire, give our office a call to see if we can help you solve the problem. If we decide that it really is necessary for you to come in, then we’ll make sure our safety protocols are in place and for you to come only if you are able to. 

Your Guide To Orthodontics When You're Sick

Call us if you need us

Regardless of what’s happening with your health or your teeth, just know that McGrory Orthodontics is here to be a support to you whenever you need us. Call one of our offices in Pearland or Bellaire if you have any questions about how best to care for your teeth while you are sick, or to check in on your orthodontic treatment in general. You aren’t alone in dealing with these challenges, and we can’t wait to see you back in our office when you are well!