To See Or Not To See The Dentist When You Have A Cold

14 December 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


If you are just starting with symptoms, you don't always know if you have a cold or the flu. But when it comes to being contagious, both colds and the flu are infectious diseases that you can spread to others when you talk, sneeze, or cough. Therefore, when you go to the dentist with a viral infection, you are putting other patients in the waiting room, the dental staff, and the dentist at risk of getting sick just from being around you.

The Difference Between a Cold and the Flu

Symptoms of a cold come on gradually and usually include a stuffy or runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing. Flu symptoms include fever, chills, body aches, headache, muscle pain, and fatigue. Like a cold, you can have a runny nose, sore throat, and dry cough when you have the flu. But no matter which illness you have, they are both infectious diseases that you can pass on to others.

Spreading the Virus

Since the viruses that cause the common cold and flu are carried by droplets you exhale into the air, other people can breathe them in or become infected by touching something you touched and then touching their own mouths or noses. Your dentist or dental hygienist, who comes in direct contact with the saliva (and germs) in your mouth, are at increased risk of being infected. The latex gloves, face masks, and eye goggles they wear help protect them, but they can still pick up the virus in other ways.

Even if you feel up to going to the dentist, give serious thought to rescheduling your appointment, especially if you've been running a fever. Although your symptoms may come on suddenly, the symptoms for either the flu or a cold can linger for days or weeks—keep that in mind when you reschedule your appointment. You can reduce the chance of infecting other people if you remain at home for at least another day after your fever goes away

Length of Time You May Be Contagious


You can infect other people with a flu virus for up to 7 days after you get sick. But since symptoms can take anywhere from 1-4 days to manifest after you are infected with the virus, you can infect other people before you even know that you've got the flu. Even if you never get sick yourself, if the virus is in your body, you can still pass it along and make other people sick. If you know that you are sick, you should stay away from other people, as you can spread the virus to individuals who are 6 feet away from you.


You can infect people with the viruses that cause the common cold for as long as you have symptoms. Like the flu, you can be infectious for a few days before your own symptoms appear. Although your cold can be contagious for up to 2 weeks, you pose the highest risk to others during the first 2 or 3 days when your cold symptoms are most severe.

If you're still not certain, just call the dental office {like Family Dental Center TriCities, PC} and ask what they recommend.