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How The Flu Hurts Your Mouth And How You Can Care For It

Are you waking up with an itchy throat and feeling out of sorts even when it’s fabulous winter weather outside?

Well, flu season is upon us too. Getting a flu shot, washing your hands often, and avoiding ill people are common-sense precautions. But there’s one overlooked aspect of flu prevention and recovery: good oral health.

As if the cold and other symptoms of the flu weren’t bad enough, it can also affect your oral health.

Let’s explore the mysterious connection between the flu and your dental health. 

How Does The Flu Affect Your Dental Health?

Dental health isn’t a priority when you have the flu. Perhaps you’ll think:

What does the flu have to do with my teeth?

But it can affect your dental health. Your oral health can be a strong indication of your immune system.

Flu or influenza is a contagious respiratory virus that affects millions annually. If you have the flu, some symptoms that you might experience are fever, sore throat, cough, nasal congestion, aches, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Flu can be deadly for those with immature or compromised Immune systems. Flu can cause further complications such as pneumonia, brain, heart, and muscle inflammation, organ shutdown, and even a life-threatening emergency such as sepsis. Flu can cause death, but many are still unaware of its connection to the mouth. This disease causes havoc to the body and your mouth simultaneously.

With a healthy immune system, influenza can be cleared from your body in as little as two days. But for most, and those with weakened immune systems, the virus can remain for up to 14 days or two weeks.

Influenza is spread by the contamination of respiratory droplets that originate from your nasal passages. So, your mouth is the first carrier of the flu and any contact with it will spread the virus. 

Because the flu affects all body systems, here are some flu-related dental problems.

Dry Mouth 

Nasal congestion is a common flu symptom during the winter. The change in your voice or speech patterns makes it “sound like you have a pretty awful cold.” 

Congestion can affect oral health. First, nasal congestion can cause dry mouth, especially while sleeping. When blocked, you must breathe through your mouth. Congestion can block nasal passages, causing snoring. Snoring dries out the mouth, which promotes bacterial growth and cavities.

Also, the drier your mouth, the less saliva you have to help break down food and wash away particles that could cause cavities and gum disease. Second, decongestants and antihistamines can cause dry mouth according to the Mayo Clinic

So, dry mouth increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. It also makes chewing and swallowing harder.


A cold virus increases the risk of sinusitis, an infection that can put pressure on your sinus cavities above your back teeth, making it seem like a tooth infection. If the symptoms persist, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.


A toothache can be painful. What most people don’t realize is that a sinus virus may cause sudden, unexpected tooth pain. If it’s the flu, things get miserable fast.

Upper tooth pain, especially if it affects multiple teeth, and tenderness around your sinuses may be signs of the cold virus or bacterial infection. 

When you breathe through your mouth while you’re awake or asleep, you increase your risk of cavities. This is because saliva is crucial to control the bacteria in your mouth. Congestion can also cause post-nasal drip, allowing the mucus to drip down the back of your throat. This causes bacteria deposits in your throat, causing inflammation and pain. The nasal and sinus congestion cause swelling, which can put pressure on the nerves causing tooth or jaw pain.

Our Top Dental Health Tips For The Flu Season

Your oral health may not be on your mind during the cold and flu season. But the flu can affect your mouth adversely. Here are our simple but effective tips that can keep your teeth healthy while you’re sick with the flu.

  1. Brush And Floss Daily

The best flu prevention starts with your mouth. Good oral hygiene involves flossing after meals and brushing twice daily.

Leaving food in your mouth and under your gums allows harmful bacteria to enter your bloodstream. Your body must fight this bacterium once it enters your bloodstream. This can tire the immune system and reduce its ability to fight off infections like the flu.

However, even if you’re weak and exhausted because of the flu, it’s crucial to brush and floss daily. This helps control mouth bacteria and reduces congestion-related bad breath and dry mouth.

People usually brush for 30 seconds. Brush your teeth for 2 to 3 minutes daily, including your tongue. 

  1. Discard Your Toothbrush

The flu virus lives in your mucus, so it contacts your mouth every day you’re infected. People with the flu don’t stop brushing their teeth if they’re vomiting frequently. 

Your toothbrush becomes a harbor of infection. The flu virus can live on toothbrushes for 48 hours, according to the CDC. If you’re sick, don’t share your toothbrush to avoid spreading the virus.

If you brush your teeth twice a day or more, the virus can live on your toothbrush and harm your health each time of used. After the flu or another illness, toss your old toothbrush immediately and replace it with a new toothbrush. Reinfection is possible, especially if your immune system is weak.

Here are some infection-fighting toothbrush tips for preventing the flu this winter:

  • After brushing, rinse the toothbrush and let it air-dry in an upright position.
  • Wash your hands before and after brushing and flossing to avoid bacteria from entering the mouth.
  • Never share toothbrushes with anyone. Keep all household members’ toothbrushes separate from one another to prevent cross-contamination and the spreading of germs.
  • Sterilize your toothbrush once a week by placing it in a few inches of water in a microwave-safe container and heating it for 2-3 minutes.
  • Don’t share toothbrushes with others in the household. Keep each member’s toothbrushes separate from each other to prevent cross-contamination and germ spread. 
  • The ADA suggests replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months. Toss any used toothbrush after an illness like the flu infection. Even after being rinsed, toothbrushes can harbor pathogens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In weakened immune systems, a flu strain can reinfect. This is more common with bacterial infections like strep throat. To avoid reinfection, discard a toothbrush used during illness. 
  1. Hydrate Your Body

When sick, your body needs extra fluid to fight infection. A dry mouth is common when breathing through the nose is difficult. A dry mouth can cause cavities and gum disease because saliva controls cavity-causing bacteria. 

We have always recommended hydration to those suffering from the cold and flu. Cold and flu medications can dry the mouth and throat. Plaque and cavity bacteria love dry mouths. Increasing your fluid intake helps your healing process while combating dry mouth. Drinking water, soup, and juice will help during flu infection.

Fever can cause dehydration, which worsens fatigue and aches, including tooth pain. Sip from a water bottle often throughout the day. This is especially important at night, so you can immediately rehydrate if you wake up with a dry mouth. Drinking water often helps keep your mouth moist while also hydrating your body.

  1. Do The Salt-Water Gargle And Rinse Your Mouth Often

Dissolve salt water in warm water and gargle. This helps reduce bad breath and plaque by reducing harmful bacteria in your mouth and throat. It can also reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Vomiting is a nasty flu side effect. Vomiting causes tooth decay as it exposes teeth to stomach acid, which erodes the enamel. Rinse and spit with water and baking soda to dilute the acids.

  1. Opt For Sugar-Free Medications

Many cold and flu medications are loaded with sugar to “help the medicine go down.” Sugar can cause tooth decay and gum damage, even with medication.

It’s worth it to find medication with alternative sweeteners or to brush and rinse afterward. 

Buy medications that are sugar-free or sweetened with xylitol or sucralose. If you can’t find sugar-free or low-sugar alternatives for your medications, brush or rinse after taking them. If your medicine is acidic, wait for at least 30 minutes before brushing to allow your enamel to harden.

Continue to take your medications. Sugar-free cough drops or vitamin lozenges help in salivation production. Nasal decongestants help keep airways open and reduce dry mouth symptoms because of medication. 

Good Oral Hygiene Can Prevent The Flu

Flu prevention starts with good oral hygiene. It should be part of a comprehensive health-preservation plan.

It’s empowering to know how oral hygiene can help or hinder your healing while fighting this illness.

You may want to lie in bed and rest during the flu season. But dental routines are important during this time. Don’t give the bacteria a chance to build up. Get your dental checkups and cleanings.

Disclaimer: We routinely draw upon public health resources to inform our write-ups. Information in this article may be drawn up from multiple public health sources, including:

American Dental Association’s MouthHealthy.org

California Dental Association

American Dental Association’s Action for Dental Health

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention



Laser Dentistry

Why Should You Schedule Regular Dental Checkups?

Why Should You Schedule Regular Dental Checkups_Palo Alto Dentists

It is always a good idea to pay attention to your oral health and give it the care it deserves. And there’s no better way to start prioritizing your teeth than by scheduling an appointment with your local Palo Alto dentist!

Dental hygiene is an essential part of your overall health hygiene. With a dental exam and cleaning in Palo Alto, you can keep your pearly whites sparkling and prevent long-term infections or diseases. During a dental exam, your dentist can spot dental problems early on when solutions are simpler and more affordable. Regular dental checkups can also prevent problems from developing in the first place. Finally, a dentist would be able to spot symptoms of other systemic diseases that can appear in the mouth.

So, no matter how busy you are and how jam-packed your schedule is, you should always try to squeeze your annual dental cleaning appointment into your schedule. The benefits extend to a lot more than just maintaining a beautiful smile.

This article takes a deeper look at the reasons why dental cleanings are essential for your oral and overall health. But first, let us take a glance at what dental checkups and cleaning in Palo Alto entail.


What is Dental Cleaning?

Getting dental cleaning done on an annual or bi-annual basis is essential for optimum oral health. When you visit your dentist for your dental cleaning, they will initiate the cleaning process by first doing a dental exam to identify irregularities, cavities, inflammation, or any other potential concerns that might be present. Next, your dentist or a dental hygienist will remove any tartar or plaque on your teeth and gums with the use of metal hand instruments or ultrasonic scalers. After the scaling process is complete, your teeth will be polished to further remove any remaining plaques or stains. A fluoride treatment is then applied to your teeth, marking the end of your dental cleaning process. However, if your teeth and gum demand extra attention, your dentist might add a few other steps too, such as an x-ray and discuss treatment options with you!

Let’s now look at how dental checkups help you maintain good oral hygiene and health.


Identify Dental & Systemic Problems at an Early Stage

Getting dental exams on a regular basis is a critical part of preventive health care. While conducting the exam, your dentist will initiate the procedure by examining your teeth and gums to check for signs of gum diseases or cavities that might be present.

Next, your dentist will check your mouth, face and neck to see if there are any other abnormalities present that might be a risk to your oral or overall health. In addition to manually checking your face, neck, and mouth for abnormalities, your dentist may also schedule you for an X-ray, radiographs, or other diagnostic procedures to carry out a thorough examination. Getting these exams done regularly can help your dentist spot early symptoms and signs of systemic diseases, including cancer, lupus, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.


Prevent Dental Problems from Occurring

While proper brushing and flossing form the cornerstone of good dental care, professional cleaning is essential to get rid of plaque and tartar.  Plaque is a sticky coating that forms on your teeth from a buildup of bacteria. Plaques eventually hardens into tartar if not properly removed. Dentists spot and remove plaque and tartar with the use of professional equipment and techniques. Ignoring the problem itself can be risky for the long-term health of your gums and teeth as plaque contains bacteria that can lead to gum disease . Therefore visiting a dentist for plaque or tartar removal is highly advisable.


Maintain Good Periodontal Health

Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, is a bacterial infection in your gums, when left untreated, can lead to destruction of the tissue surrounding your gums and can result in loss of tooth and other serious complications.

During your annual checkup and cleaning, if your dentist spots early onset of gum disease, they may perform deep cleaning to go below your gum line and clean away calcified tartar and plaque from around and below the affected teeth. If your gum disease has advanced to periodontitis, your dentist may recommend tissue and bone graft to treat the disease.

Certain groups, such as diabetics are more prone to periodontitis.  Treating periodontitis may help manage your diabetes better. Conversely, periodontitis has been linked to the prevalence of multiple systemic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal and colorectal cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory tract infections, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

So, we recommend that you opt for preventive dental services, and keep periodontitis and associated systemic diseases at bay.


Final Thoughts

Looking forward to a lifetime of beautiful smiles and oral health? Through regular teeth cleaning in Palo Alto, you can have both! One of the keys to a healthy and happy mouth that is free of any ailments or health risks is to get regular professional dental cleaning done. In addition to this, it is vital that you remember to take care of your teeth and gums through daily brushing and flossing.

Located in Palo Alto, California, Blue Turtle Dental is led by our highly qualified Palo Alto dentists Dr Alex Yen, Dr Munnazah Hussain, and Dr Jessica Sheu. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and find out how preventative dental care can help preserve your dental and overall health. You can direct any concerns you may have, and we will be happy to help you find a dental solution that suits your health & budgetary needs!

Article resources:
Information in this article has been gathered from multiple public health sources, including:



Why Do Dentists Recommend Regular Dental Check-ups For Adults?

Why Do Dentists Recommend Regular Dental Check-ups For Adults_Redwood City Dentists

You brush twice a day, floss regularly, and use a dental rinse as recommended. So, do you still have to keep up with your dental checkups and cleaning in Palo Alto?

The quick answer is yes. It all boils down to prevention.

The mouth, according to the American Dental Association, is considered the window to your overall health. Gum disease has been linked to other ailments such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, to name a few.


How frequently should you have dental checkups and cleaning in Palo Alto?

A visit every six months is the standard recommendation for the average dental patient. However, this is dependent on several factors, and your dentist will usually advise you on how frequently you should visit.

An annual visit may be adequate for low-risk persons who maintain a decent daily oral hygiene program. On the other hand, those with underlying medical issues may need to visit more frequently, especially if they wish to keep up with their preventive dental regimen.

Below are some conditions that may necessitate more regular dental checkups:


  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Periodontal (gum) disease

Also, anyone with a weakened immune system as a result of a chronic illness is advised by dentists to schedule frequent visits.


Benefits of regular dental check-ups and cleanings in Palo Alto

Frequent dental visits for examination and cleaning play a key role in oral healthcare, as we will see below:


  1. Keep cavity, plaque, and tartar off your teeth 

Frequent dental cleanings prevent tartar from damaging your teeth, which is how cavities are formed. Most of the time, cavities do not show any early symptoms as they develop. Most of the time, the only symptom you might experience is a minor ache when the tooth is already decayed.

Unfortunately, once that happens, you will need to visit the dentist to have the cavities filled. All of this can be avoided with frequent check-ups and cleanings that take care of cavities and tartar before they become destructive.


  1. Gum disease check 

Besides causing tooth decay, plaque and tartar also harm the mouth gum tissues. Usually, tartar buildup causes an infection on the gums. This form of infection is known as gingivitis, and as it spreads, the gums tissues break down and pull away from the tooth. At this point, you may notice some soreness, bleeding, and swelling in your mouth.

Even worse, gum disease causes deterioration of the bone that keeps the teeth in place. Here, it is not surprising to see your teeth loosening and falling out, necessitating the use of advanced treatment methods by the dentist.

As you might guess, this results in several appointments, which eventually cost you a lot of money. Your money and time can be saved through regular check-ups as suggested by your Palo Alto dentist.


  1. Keeping bad dental habits in check

Some unhealthy habits can cause dental problems. We are talking about habits such as biting your nails, grinding your teeth, brushing your teeth too hard, smoking, chewing ice, clenching your jaw, and eating particularly sticky sweets. All these can be noticed during a dental check-up, and your dentist will advise you accordingly. 


  1. Oral cancer detection

During a periodical check-up, your dentist will examine the tongue, throat, neck, and mouth areas for any potential anomalies to ascertain whether you are a risk for oral cancer.

Data from the Oral Cancer Foundation shows that one person succumbs to oral cancer every hour of the day in America. Early detection through regular dental check-ups can go a long way for the 54,000 patients diagnosed every year.


  1. Dentists can provide advice, specific to your needs

Usually, when people have medical-related issues, they turn to the internet, a platform that is full of helpful information but also half-truths. Fortunately, top dentists in Palo Alto are qualified in their profession; hence, they can provide guidance and advice you can trust.

By paying your dentist regular visits, you can build a beneficial relationship that will help them tailor support and advice, specific to your oral needs.


What to do between each dental visit

Be sure to look after your teeth between dental visits. Here are some helpful tips for maintaining good oral hygiene at home:


  • Drink fluoridated water and brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss daily
  • Cut down on your sugar intake. Sugar increases bacteria growth in the mouth which eventually results in plaque.
  • Don’t use tobacco products
  • Limit alcoholic drinks


So are dental check-ups and cleaning in Palo Alto worth the effort? 

During your regular dental check-ups and cleaning in Palo Alto, the dentists are concerned with more than just tooth repair, as some may think. They clean your teeth properly, examine for irregularities that could otherwise go missed and could be a symptom of broader health issues, and ensure that your gums and teeth are healthy.

Thus, you’ll be doing yourself a big favor in the long term if you stay up with regular dental cleanings and check-ups as advised by the dentist.

Article resources:
Information in this article has been gathered from multiple public health sources, including:

Follow These Tips for a Great Back-to-School Dental Checkup

Follow These Tips for a Great Back-to-School Dental Checkup_Santa Clara Dentists

The back-to-school season is fraught with excitement and anxiety. Children and parents go through a flurry of emotions, and it is easy for them to lose sight of vital practices like booking a dental checkup.

We get it. So, let’s offer some advice on why and how you should go about preparing your kid for a back-to-school dental checkup in Palo Alto.


Why visiting a pediatric dentist before school begins is crucial.

Your kids may be ready for the looming school year in terms of clothes, school supplies, and sports equipment; however, do they have a healthy mouth or things needed to maintain it?

Scheduling a back-to-school dental checkup and cleaning in Palo Alto is vital for the following reasons:


  1. Dental problems are one of the biggest reasons kids miss school, eventually leading to decreased academic performance. Therefore, scheduling a back-to-school checkup is essential in fighting cavities (the most common chronic disease found in school-going kids) and preventing school absences.
  2. The best pediatric dentists in Palo Alto are able to detect problems early. Early detection helps avert pain and gum infections. It also means less costly treatments.
  3. It can prevent tooth damage, loss, and other dental emergencies. Usually, dental injures are one of the major causes of tooth loss and damage. Your Palo Alto dentist can provide a personalized sports mouthguard that will offer greater protection for your kid’s pearly whites.
  4. Poor dental health can affect your kid’s overall health. There is always a direct correlation between oral infection, obesity, and asthma. Thus, booking a back-to-school dental checkup is important for your little one’s well-being.
  5. Some schools require a pediatric dentist’s signature verifying your kid has a clean bill of oral health.


Back-to-school dental checkup tips you should follow.   

As mentioned above, early detection and prevention have always been the secret to avoiding dental problems. Therefore, as a parent, you have to strive for a great back-to-school dental checkup for your kid. Here are tips to achieve that:

Plan for dental checkups early enough 

To have a seamless back-to-school dental checkup and cleaning in Palo Alto, ensure you plan early enough. Well, there is so much that goes on during the summer – camping, vacations, visiting friends and family, to name a few. But, always plan dental appointments in advance to avoid the last-minute rush.

Unfortunately, many parents visit dental offices a week before school opening. As a result, kids end up frustrated by the long queues and endless commotion. Some even miss the chance of seeing the dentist as this is usually one of the busiest seasons for the dental industry. You wouldn’t want that to happen to your kid, would you?

Teach your children to observe good dental habits 

Whenever a pediatric dentist declares your kids free from dental issues, encourage them to do better.  Remind them to brush and floss at least twice a day.

You can set a timer or download phone applications that encourage your kids to take oral health seriously. Some apps come with motivational tips and music that really help kids get into a great habit. For instance, Brush DJ is one such app and is freely available on iTunes.

Book your kid’s dental appointment at the right time of the day. 

Pick a day where your kid is fully rested. You can choose morning appointments because this is the time your kid is most active. That said, try as much as possible not to disrupt your kid’s daily schedule.

For instance, do not book a dental consultation during their sleeping hours. Also, don’t book an appointment when they had a long, tedious day. Scheduling an appointment at the wrong time can make your kid grumpy.

Even important, ensure your kid is well fed on the appointment day. A hungry kid can be moody throughout the appointment. Thus, grab your child a snack at least an hour before the meeting. But avoid sugary snacks and remember to have them brush before seeing the dentist.

Keep calm and cheer your child on

Encourage your kid throughout the appointment so that they don’t become panicky. Don’t be nervous as your kid might notice and follow suit. Also, let your child ask the dentist any question they have concerning the appointment. Dentists know how to handle tense situations whenever they sense the kid is nervous.

Ask about sealants 

While sealants are not a substitute for teeth brushing and flossing, they can be an ideal way to keep your kid from getting cavities. Administering sealants only take a few minutes and is totally a painless procedure. Besides, most insurance plans cover sealants at 100%!

In summary, there are various ways to ensure a successful back-to-school dental checkup and cleaning in Palo Alto. Taking specific measures in advance goes a long way in improving your kid’s dental health. Some of them, as you might have realized, include observing healthy oral practices. It is also advisable to take the contact details of your pediatric dentist. In the event of specific emergencies, the sports coaches and teachers will know who to call.

Article resources:
Information in this article has been gathered from multiple public health sources, including: