Caring for Oral Health Can Keep the Flu Away!

With a flu season that’s being called one of the worst in recent history, preventing the flu has become a major focus for many Americans. From flu shots to over-the-counter medicines claiming to prevent the illness, there’s no shortage of options, but that doesn’t mean they’ll work, or that they’ll work on their own. But did you know there are things you can do right from home to help safeguard yourself from the flu (and other illnesses)? Here are some tips to help you stay healthy without even trying.

Wash Your Hands – A Lot

This one seems obvious, but often we encounter things in our daily life we don’t think about washing our hands after touching. Door handles, grocery carts, borrowed pens, the buttons on the credit card machine at the coffee shop. If people touch it, it has germs on it, including the flu virus. So, make sure you wash your hands frequently, and encourage your kids to do the same.

Get Your Flu Shot

Yes, you’ve probably heard the shot is less effective this year than previous years, but even if it doesn’t prevent you from getting the flu entirely, it can still make the flu you get less severe – and it can’t do that if you don’t get it at all. Keep in mind, the flu shot isn’t a guarantee either way. Each year scientists must estimate which flu strain they think will spread – and sometimes they get it wrong.

Also, we have heard people say they don’t get the vaccine because they believe it’s an antibiotic. This isn’t true. The flu vaccine is a weakened version of the flu strain that gives your body a head start in learning how to fight the virus off.

Brush Your Teeth

A recent study has shown that maintaining proper oral care can prevent pneumonia. It can also help prevent a variety of different illnesses, including influenza. To help keep the flu out of your mouth at home, make sure you clean your toothbrush after using, and never, ever reuse dental floss.

Get Checked Out, ASAP

If you start feeling sick, don’t wait it out to see if you’ll get better. Call your doctor as soon as possible to be tested for the flu. If you have it, there are treatments that can make it a lot less uncomfortable.

Go Back to Bed

If you do have the flu, or suspect you do, stay home! Don’t go to work, the mall or the gym. Stay home, let your body rest, and help stop the spread of the flu.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on January 31st, 2018