Updated: 1/29/2020 When your kids are feeling under the weather, one of the last things you probably think about is the health of their teeth. You’re too busy trying to…

Little Girl in Dentist Chair Holding Stuffed Tooth

Taking Care of Your Sick Kids and Their Teeth

Updated: 1/29/2020

When your kids are feeling under the weather, one of the last things you probably think about is the health of their teeth. You’re too busy trying to help them feel better, as any parent would be. In all actuality, taking care of their teeth can help them feel better faster.

Discover what you can do to take care of your sick kids and their teeth by heeding the advice listed below.

For Their Teeth

Nearly 50 percent of all kids have tooth decay. Do you think being sick contributes to that? It’s a definite possibility. Even when we’re sick, as adults, we don’t always think about the importance of brushing and flossing our teeth—there are too many other things to think about. However, to help your kids to get better faster and maintain good oral health, consider instilling these good practices into their daily routine when they’re sick:

  • Have them drink plenty of the right fluids. Water is best when it comes to staying hydrated when you’re sick, but doctors often recommend other fluids like apple juice or Gatorade when kids are sick. These liquids are fine for your kids to drink, but make sure they go and rinse their mouth out thoroughly after drinking these liquids. It’s also not a good idea for them to sip on these drinks throughout the day—as often happens when anyone is sick. The sugar will coat their teeth. Instead, offer them these beverages with meals or for a quick drink when they’re thirsty. Place cups of water at their bedside that they can drink throughout the day.
  • Buy your kids new toothbrushes after they’ve been sick. Letting bacteria rest on the bristles of your child’s toothbrush won’t help them get better any faster. The germs will keep spreading around in their mouth. To ensure your child’s toothbrush is as clean as it should be:
    • Make sure it’s being rinsed thoroughly after any brushing.
    • Is in an upright position not touching any other toothbrushes.
    • Sits at least six feet from the toilet.
    • Is completely dry upon use.
    • Replaced with a new toothbrush when their sickness has passed.
  • Establish a dental routine for when they’re sick:
    • Keep floss on their nightstand. Do your kids not want to get out of bed when they’re sick? Keep floss on their nightstand and remind them to floss after eating. They’ll also want to get up to brush their teeth after eating to ensure no bacteria or food particles are left in their mouth.
    • Brush and floss three times a day. It may be difficult to get your child up out of bed when they’re feeling bad, but when they get up to go to the bathroom make sure they remember to brush their teeth, too. They’ll get both necessary trips taken care of at one time. Not brushing or flossing their teeth can allow the bacteria found in their mouth to grow.
    • Use mouthwash. Another alternative if you can’t get your kids to brush their teeth as many times as they should is to have them use a bit of mouthwash to swish around in their mouth. It will help kill the germs and remove food particles left in their mouth and teeth. It can also help them get over their illness quicker because it continually gets the germs out of their mouth every time they use it.
    • Have your child brush his/her teeth after taking medicine. Most medicines, cough syrups for kids and the like contain a lot of sugar, which isn’t good for their teeth. Instead of avoiding these cough syrups—you do want them to get better!—choose one that contains the least amount of sugar but has the needed results. Then teach your kids to rinse and brush their teeth after taking their dose.
  • When your kids throw up, rinse their mouth with water, waiting at least 1 hour before brushing their teeth. Throw up is acidic. Brushing your kids’ teeth after they throw up is not a good idea. It will scratch tooth enamel. Instead, have them rinse their mouth with water or a fluoridated mouthwash. The mouthwash will help them get the taste out of their mouth and clear out the germs and bacteria there. Then, after an hour, they can brush their teeth.

For Their Health

No one likes to see their kids sick. Here are some things you can do to ensure their illness goes away faster.

    • Take them to the doctor to find out what the root of the problem is—cold, flu, strep, etc. Once your doctor has diagnosed their symptoms, you can start giving them their treatment based on what the doctor said to help them feel better.
    • Make sure they get plenty of rest. While many kids will want to rest when they’re sick, some kids may want to stay up and watch movies or play with their friends. Make sure they are getting plenty of down time. Encourage them by telling them the more that they rest to feel better, the quicker they’ll be able to get out and play with their friends again.
    • Give them plenty of fluids. Your kids need to stay hydrated and get the vitamins they’re lacking into their immune system. Make sure that whatever fluids you’re giving them that they’re still taking care of their dental health by not letting those sugary liquids sit too long on their teeth. And remember that water is best.
    • Have your child wash his hands thoroughly and often. Your kids’ hands are typically covered in germs—even more so when they’re sick. Make sure they are washing their hands thoroughly and often with an antibacterial soap.
    • Don’t let your child touch his eyes, nose or mouth. These are the areas germs can enter the body. Help your kids refrain from touching their eyes, nose or mouth when they’re sick, and even when they’re well.
    • Avoid contact with other people who are sick. Whether your kids are healthy or sick, staying away from other people who are sick is important. If healthy, staying away will help them avoid illness; if unhealthy, staying away will help them avoid coming down with another illness or passing theirs along to another person.


Being sick isn’t fun for anyone, but by following some of the tips listed above, you can help your kids get over their illness much quicker, maintaining their good oral hygiene in the process. And as you can probably tell by some of the advice listed above, these tips aren’t just for kids. You could benefit from them, as well. Make it a family habit to practice these steps when anyone in the family is sick.

How do you help your kids take care of their teeth when they’re sick? 

Natasha is 1Dental’s managing editor and copywriter, focusing content on dental and health news, advice and tips straight from the experts. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and has since been a book editor and now copywriter and managing editor on dental and health. You can find her on Twitter and all of 1Dental’s social networks.

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