Winter Bugs and Oral Health

In winter time our chances of catching a winter bug increases when spending more time indoors. The most common bugs this year are Covid, the Flu, RSV, Winter Vomiting Bug and Streptococcal Throat.
Brushing and flossing our teeth are just as important when we’re sick!

When you feel sick, you’re really only thinking about getting better as quickly as possible. Typically, you feel very tired and it is difficult to muster up the energy to think about your oral health.

However, it is still important not to skip brushing your teeth twice a day and to floss, even when you are unwell.

You may have noticed that you have bad breath when you have Covid, the Flu, or a bad cold. This can be due to nasal drip which causes mucus and bacteria to build-up in your throat. Gargling with a solution of salt and warm water may help to loosen up the mucus and may also help to soothe a sore throat. Gargle for as long as it feels comfortable, then spit it out.

It is quite normal to become dehydrated when you are sick, so drink plenty of fluids like water and broth. Its best to avoid ‘flat 7-UP’ as this is full of sugar and bad for the teeth. Sipping frequently on sugar-free fizzy drinks or orange juice can damage the teeth as they are acidic.

Medications like decongestants and antihistamines can cause ‘dry mouth’ so drink water to hydrate your mouth and to prevent the build-up of bacteria that may cause tooth decay and bad breath.

It’s a good idea to rinse your mouth after vomiting as the acid from your stomach can attack your teeth and wear away tooth enamel. Use a solution of water and about one teaspoon of baking soda, then spit it out. This will help to rinse the acid off your teeth. As your tooth enamel is softened by your stomach acid, don’t brush your teeth straight away, wait about an hour.

If you are sucking on ‘cough drops’ to soothe your throat, make sure that they are sugar-free.


We all now appreciate the importance of good handwashing and coughing/sneezing etiquette to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria.

 It is important that we get continue these routines and to also continue with good oral hygiene.

The mouth and nose are the main entry points for many winter bugs so we must be careful to avoid infection as we care for our teeth and mouth.

Our top tips are:

  1. Never share toothbrushes.
  2. Wash Hands Before Brushing Teeth. We know that viruses are transmitted by the hands touching the face or mouth. But we often forget that when brushing our teeth. Develop a routine to wash hands—and then brush, floss, and wash face and hands. Most important: Wash your hands and your child’s hands before brushing. Also, keep their toothbrush clean.
  3. Clean Toothbrush After Brushing. Rinse Toothbrush in warm water after each use.
  4. Toothbrush Holders. Toothbrush heads should never touch. Place toothbrushes standing upright in an open container after brushing, store brushes separately in individual holders like a glass/jam jar. Get children to mark their own name with an indelible marker Don’t place down on a countertop or lie on the handbasin. Disinfect containers that hold brushes. Run toothbrushes containers through complete dishwasher cycle or wash in warm water and liquid detergent. Put brushes in holders in a safe place. Store toothbrush away from the toilet. Flushing the toilet produces aerosols that can land on your toothbrush, so it is good practice to put the lid down on the toilet before flushing.
  5. Good Practice with Toothpaste. If you are sharing a bathroom, as in a family group, to avoid cross contamination from the toothpaste/toothbrush we recommend that you don’t dispense the toothpaste directly onto your toothbrush, dispense it either onto the edge of a plate, with good spacing so that toothbrushes don’t touch each other or onto a clean piece of disposable kitchen towel.
  6. Practice Social Distancing Brushing your Teeth. It’s always a good idea to have one person at a time at the sink. Bacteria from your mouth enter the air as you brush your teeth. Stand back from others as you brush.
  7. When Should I change my Toothbrush? Replace Toothbrush if you get Sick Make a new start when you recover from a viral or bacterial infection. Throw out your toothbrush and start with a new one.
  8. Contact your Dentist with Questions or Concerns