cold and tooth pain -- woman blowing nose while laying in bed

How Does a Cold or Flu Affect My Mouth?

Winter is upon us and that means the cold and flu season is in full swing. While everyone knows how the cold or flu affects your body—fever, body aches, stuffed-up nose, and coughing—many people do not realize how much these illnesses affect oral health. For instance, did you know that a cold and tooth pain go hand-in-hand? Or that the flu can cause dry mouth? 

Let’s take a look at the two most common questions we receive from Mettler and Griego Family Dentistry patients about how the cold or flu impacts their oral health. 

What’s the relationship between a cold and tooth pain?  

One of the most common questions patients ask is “can a cold cause tooth pain?” The answer is yes. 

A cold can sometimes cause your sinuses to swell. Your sinuses are spaces in your head—some are above your nose and eyes, and others are next to your nose above your mouth. When you have a cold, your sinuses may become filled with fluid instead of air. This causes them to swell and become infected

Because of the location of the sinuses, a sinus infection can cause pain in different areas of your face, including your mouth. Pressure from the fluid-filled sinuses pushes down on the roots of teeth, causing a toothache in multiple teeth. This can also be the reason why some patients tell us they experience sore gums along with their cold symptoms. 

Although a sinus infection can clear up on its own, sometimes it needs some extra help in the form of antibiotics. Other signs of a sinus infection include: 

  • Thick yellow or green-colored mucus coming from your nose or throat
  • Headache
  • Pressure or pain in other parts of the face
  • Difficulty smelling or tasting foods

Can a cold cause dry mouth? 

When you have a cold or flu, your nose is usually stuffed up. This causes you to breathe through your mouth more than you normally would, especially when sleeping. Breathing through an open mouth for extended periods of time dries out your mouth. This results in aching teeth and gums. 

Also, the mouth requires saliva to wash bacteria away from teeth and gums. Less saliva means more bacteria staying in your mouth, which can affect your overall oral health. 

Coughing can also cause dry mouth and irritate already sensitive teeth and gums. 

Some over-the-counter flu and cold medications, including antihistamines and decongestants, can be another cause of mouth dryness. 

To help combat dry mouth when sick with the cold or flu, we recommend: 

  • Staying as hydrated as possible by drinking plenty of water
  • Using sugar-free gum or cough drops to help keep saliva flowing
  • Running a humidifier or taking frequent hot showers to help unclog nasal passages and add moisture to the air
  • Trying to keep up with your normal brushing and flossing routine to stimulate saliva flow and remove harmful bacteria from your mouth

Protecting Oral Health in Glendale AZ

Here at Mettler and Griego Family Dentistry, we always wish our patients the best health possible. Unfortunately, getting a cold or the flu is common during the winter. We want to help prepare our patients by making sure they know what symptoms to look out for and what they can do to help ensure these illnesses do not negatively impact their oral health. 

If you recently had the flu or a cold along with tooth pain or dry mouth, one of our experienced dentists can help alleviate your symptoms and make sure there’s nothing else going on with your oral health. Call us today at 623-888-8792 to schedule your free consultation. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels