caring for your child's mouth and teeth when they're sick header graphic. Dr Hersch sitting with patient.

Caring for Your Child’s Mouth and Teeth When They’re Sick

Sep 1, 2022

When your child is sick, the last thing you want to think about is how best to care for their mouth and teeth. However, you’ll be doing them a huge favor by keeping those areas of their body healthy while they’re feeling ill. Here are some easy tips to ensure your child’s mouth and teeth are properly cared for when they’re sick.


Practice good hygiene

When your child is sick, it is important to practice good hygiene in order to prevent the spread of an illness. Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and brushing your teeth are two simple ways to do this. You should also encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids, as this will help keep their mouth clean. If your child is having trouble brushing their teeth, you can try using a toothbrush with softer bristles or letting them chew on sugar-free gum to help clean their teeth.


Choose sugar-free cough drops

To avoid making their symptoms worse, avoid cough drops with fructose or corn syrup. A sugary cough drop is like candy and can cause tooth decay. Sugar and other carbohydrates are trouble makers when it comes to cavities. The longer you keep a sugary cough drop in your mouth, the more time cavity-causing bacteria have to feast on that sugar, which produces the acid that can leave holes in your teeth. Instead, opt for sugar-free cough drops. 


Swish and spit after vomiting

Swishing with water or a diluted mouth rinse after vomiting can help remove stomach acids from your child’s teeth. Be sure to have your child swish and spit several times to remove as much acid as possible. If your child is too young to swish and spit on their own, drinking water or wiping their mouth with a wet washcloth is helpful. You can also help prevent tooth decay by giving your child a fluoride rinse to use after they vomit. Avoid brushing right away, as this just spreads the acid from tooth to tooth.


Stay hydrated to avoid dry mouth

It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re sick, especially if you have a fever. Fever can cause dehydration, which can lead to dry mouth. Dry mouth can then lead to cavities. So be sure to drink plenty of water when you’re sick. You can also suck on ice chips or popsicles to help keep your mouth moist.


Choose the right fluids

When your child is sick, it is important to make sure they are staying hydrated. The best fluid for this is plain water. Sports drinks can contain a lot of sugar, which can be bad for teeth. If your child is vomiting, you can give them small sips of water throughout the day to keep them hydrated.


For more tips to help prepare your kids’ oral health for flu season, read our blog post here.

Have other questions about your child’s oral health while they are under the weather? Contact us today!

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