We originally posted this in 2013, and we want to share it again because the cold and flu season of 2015 is proving to be a challenge. While some of the viruses spreading this season have mutated since production of the vaccine, people who have been vaccinated will still have some protection, as well as a reduction of severe symptoms. At highest risk for illness are people with compromised immune systems. Pregnant women, those 65 years and older, and people who suffer from asthma, diabetes, heart disease or who live in long-term care facilities need to be particularly attentive about their general health.
The flu and cold season generally arrives in sync with winter, as people spend the majority of their time indoors. Getting a flu shot, washing your hands often, and avoiding those who are sick can help reduce the risk of illness, and while most people are aware of these common sense precautions, one of the most overlooked preventative measures is the practice of good oral health.
It is widely known that healthy teeth and gums can prevent gum disease, but it is also a fact that good oral hygiene can help prevent other types of systemic diseases. Chronic gum inflammation (periodontitis) makes the mouth a portal through which bacteria can enter the bloodstream. A recent study by the Yale University School of Medicine discovered a link between oral hygiene and bacterial pneumonia. Pneumonia is a lung infection that often occurs after an individual’s immune system has been compromised by a cold or flu. The researchers found that poor oral hygiene is a common contributing risk factor for contracting pneumonia. In fact, the risk of infection for those with severe gum problems is doubled1 according to the Yale study.
Simple toothbrush tips help fight infection
Toothbrushes can harbor harmful bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Even after being rinsed visibly clean, toothbrushes can remain contaminated with potentially pathogenic organisms.” Because of this, the American Dental Association recommends replacing them at least every 3-4 months2. It is recommended that a toothbrush used during an illness be discarded to avoid reinfection. Even though reinfection in this manner is more common with bacterial infections such as strep throat, it is possible in weakened immune systems for a flu strain to come back3. Here are a few infection fighting toothbrush tips to help prevent a cold or flu this winter season:
- Thoroughly rinse the toothbrush after brushing, and allow to air dry in an upright position.
- Wash your hands before and after brushing or flossing to avoid bacteria from entering your 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.
Help prevent disease with natural oral care products
Reducing the risk for getting the flu this season is as easy as following simple preventative measures and choosing oral care products from Dental Herb Company. Used and trusted by thousands of dentists since 1996, the Truly Natural® Tooth & Gums System is comprised of four unique products: Tooth & Gums Paste®, Tooth & Gums Tonic®, Under the Gums Irrigant®, and Tooth & Gums Spritz®. Each professional strength product is made with a precise combination of all-natural ingredients including powerful essential oils and herbal extracts that work together to help reduce oral bacteria and create a barrier from infection, soothe inflamed and bleeding gums and freshen breath. Dental Herb Company products are available for purchase online so go ahead and help prevent flus and colds this year by giving your mouth the high quality germ-fighting protection it needs. A gargle a day, may keep the doctor away!
- Salhut, Mohammad. “Link Found between Pneumonia and Oral Hygiene.”Yaledailynews.com. Yale Daily News, 25 Jan. 2012. Web. <http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2012/01/25/link-found-between-pneumonia-and-oral-hygiene/>.
- “Statement on Toothbrush Care: Cleaning, Storage and Replacement.” Ada.org. American Dental Association, Nov. 2011. Web. <http://www.ada.org/1887.aspx>.
- Brooks, Ella. “Can Your Toothbrush Make You Sick?” EverydayFamily.com. Everyday Family, n.d. Web. <http://www.everydayfamily.com/can-your-toothbrush-make-you-sick/>.