How Does Being Sick Affect Your Oral Hygiene?

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Being sick is never a nice thing. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen very often, but in some cases it’s just unavoidable. A stomach bug, eating something that doesn’t agree with you or even a virus can all make you feel nauseous at any point. But during and after the whole unpleasant experience, it’s important to know how nausea can affect your oral health, and how to best take care of your mouth when you’re not feeling well.

Vomiting

No one likes vomiting – but it happens. When you do vomit, the bile, acids and contents of your stomach coming up through your mouth can cause damage to your teeth, gums and throat. So when you do vomit, you need to make sure you take care of your mouth afterwards (even though it’s the last thing on your mind).

What To Do After Vomiting

You should avoid brushing your teeth right away after vomiting, since stomach acid weakens the enamel on your teeth, and brushing them right away can cause the enamel to erode. You should make sure you rinse your mouth with water, and then with mouthwash, and then around half an hour after you’ve finished vomiting, brush your teeth as normal.

It’s worth mentioning here that the odd vomiting episode probably won’t cause any permanent damage. But frequent vomiting from medication or illnesses like bulimia can have a very negative effect on your oral health. Dryness, soreness, redness of the mouth and tongue, chronic sore throats and erosion of your enamel. This erosion increases the risk of decay, causing more sensitivity and cavities.

Over time, frequent vomiting can cause more severe erosion that actually changes the way your upper and lower teeth come together, and you could even end up losing some teeth. If you’re vomiting a lot, or frequently, make sure you see a doctor.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is an uncomfortable thing that everyone can get from time to time, or it can be a chronic condition that causes real problems. It’s caused by gastric fluid and stomach acid being regurgitated into the oesophagus, causing heartburn and discomfort (since stomach acid is highly acidic).

Acid reflux can be caused by an underlying medical condition, or it can be caused by lifestyle choices and habits like alcohol use, smoking, fatty and acidic diets, medication or your eating habits.

How Acid Reflux Affects Your Teeth

The acid can also make its way into your throat and mouth, and splash onto your teeth, and this is where more permanent problems happen.

This acid attacks the enamel on your teeth and causes it to erode. When you have an acid reflux episode, you should avoid brushing your teeth until at least half an hour after it’s finished since the acid will still be in your mouth. If you suffer from acid reflux a lot, it’s worth talking to your dentist to see if they can provide any long-term protective treatments.

Anti-Nausea Medications

This might seem counter-intuitive, but anti-nausea medications can also affect your oral health just as badly as vomiting sometimes.

If you suffer from frequent bouts of nausea, then your doctor might prescribe you something to help settle the symptoms. While most medicines will have side effects, most people don’t realise that some of them will impact your oral health. For example, dry mouth is a common side effect of many drugs, reducing the amount of saliva in your mouth. This is quite uncomfortable, and it can cause the tissue in your mouth to become angry and inflamed, which increases your risk of gum disease, tooth decay and general infection. Certain medications can also cause your gums to swell and give you mouth ulcers, which makes your mouth an attractive breeding ground for bacteria.

How To Avoid Dental Problems Caused by Nausea

Dental health is a year-round commitment, and it’s especially important when you’re not well. It might feel like the last thing you want to do, but when you’re vomiting and exposing your teeth to stomach acid, you need to stay on top of your dental hygiene. Drink lots of water, don’t brush your teeth right away, and make sure you follow up with your doctor if something doesn’t feel quite right.

Feel free to get in touch now if you’re worried about your teeth & general oral hygiene and need some advice.

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