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Family Care Dental Clinic

Common Cold, Sinus Infection and Oral Health

Common Cold, Sinus Infection and Oral Health

It starts with a tickle in your throat. By the next day, you’ve got a stuffy nose, body aches and it feels like you’ve swallowed sandpaper. While loading up on cough medicine and nasal decongestants may be your first instinct when you’ve come down with a cold, teeth and how your illness affects your overall oral health should also be a priority.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults get two to three colds per year on average, each lasting between seven and 10 days. It’s important to know how to care for yourself properly so you can ease symptoms and avoid cold complications. If you want to feel better fast, you should take steps to safeguard your mouth. So what are the concerns regarding a cold, teeth and your oral health?

Nasal Congestion and Dry Mouth

You know the feeling: You lay your achy head down to sleep only to realize your nasal congestion is preventing you from breathing through your nose. Instead, you have to breathe through your mouth, but it gets so dry and parched that you wake up constantly for a drink of water. Nasal congestion is a major cause of dry mouth and subsequent reduced saliva flow.

In addition, certain medications you may be taking, such as decongestants and antihistamines, can reduce saliva flow, according to the Mayo Clinic. Alleviating dry mouth is important because excess dryness promotes the growth of bacteria, increasing your chances of developing tooth decay and gum disease. Plus, it makes it harder to chew, swallow and get your nutrients, which you need in order to heal.

To combat dry mouth during a cold, continue taking your nasal decongestants. They will help dry mouth in the long run, since you’ll soon be able to breathe through your nose. Have a water bottle nearby and take frequent sips of water or juice to keep your mouth lubricated and suck on cough drops to stimulate saliva flow. You might also try using a humidifier in your home, which adds moisture to the air and can soothe a dry throat, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Lastly, you can try using a saline nasal spray, which can significantly reduce sinusitis symptoms, according to the American Family Physician, or taking a hot shower, as heat can help clear your nasal passages. And even though you may not feel up to it, keeping up with your regular brushing and flossing schedule while you fight a cold is important for your oral health, as is using peroxide-free and alcohol-free mouthwashes which prevent dry mouth.

Sinus Pain and Toothaches

The last thing you need when you’re sick is a toothache. While you might think the two are unrelated and you’re just having a stroke of bad luck, pain in your upper teeth and tenderness around your sinuses may actually be signs of sinusitis, either caused by your cold virus or a bacterial infection. The upper rear teeth are close to the sinuses, and pain in that area is a common symptom of sinus conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic. The telltale sign is when pain isn’t limited to one tooth.

If you’ve had a recent cold and suddenly feel pain in your upper teeth, you may be suffering from acute sinusitis. Other symptoms include drainage of thick yellow or greenish mucous from the nose or down the throat, pain and pressure around your eyes, cheeks and nose and reduced sense of smell and taste, according to the Yale School of Medicine. Acute sinusitis may resolve on its own, but if you’re experiencing these symptoms and they haven’t improved with over-the-counter medicines, your best bet is to see your doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics.

If you take these steps as soon as you start feeling cold symptoms coming on, you protect your teeth, mouth and overall oral health, and you’ll recover faster from the common cold — teeth included. Don’t forget fluids, extra rest and some chicken soup!

Tips For Relieving Sinus Infection

1. Drink Fluids and Use Steam

Water helps hydrate the mucus membranes and decreases mucus buildup, explains the Animated Dissection of Anatomy for Medicine (ADAM). So, have fluids on hand to stay hydrated.

If you’ve become dehydrated, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), electrolytes affect the amount of water in your body, and water doesn’t naturally contain electrolytes. You may therefore want to add coconut water to your diet, which contains electrolytes like magnesium, potassium and sodium. Likewise, magnesium supports your immune system, which helps to fight both bacterial and viral sinus infections.

Add a steamy shower or a peppermint steam solution to your daily care, as well. Peppermint and steam both help cut decongestion and pain (all the more reason to drink tea when it’s cold).

2. Eat Spicy Foods

Even if you have a sensitive palate, don’t be afraid to stock up on foods that have a kick, such as horseradish or chili peppers. The ingredients in both of these have mucus-thinning properties, reports ADAM, and can give you an instant sense of relief. But not all spicy foods work equally; check with your doctor first to be sure you’re not causing more harm than good.

3. Use an Expectorant

The key to relieving sinus infection tooth pain is to drain the mucus, decreasing the pressure in your sinuses. Over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants and expectorants can provide fast relief, but in different ways. Baylor College of Medicine advises that expectorants “melt” mucus, whereas decongestants effectively dry out the passages to relieve the pressure. Look for a nasal expectorant, but take some time to read the instructions on how to flush the area and how many times per day you should do so. If symptoms persist past the prescribed usage, however, you should always consult your doctor.

Contact Family Care Dental Clinic for your consultation today!

Located in the heart of North Vancouver, BC, Family Care Dental Clinic is a group of passionate dentists and dental experts who are committed to providing patients with exceptional dental care in a modern and relaxing environment. We at Family Care Dental Clinic offer our clients a wide range of comprehensive dental services for the whole family.

Call (604) 987-3545 or write us at to schedule an appointment with a member of our excellent team!

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