When a cold comes along, many of us turn to cough syrup to help us get through it. But while a spoonful of liquid medication may ease the pain in our throats, it could be doing harm to other parts of your body.
There are several ingredients in cough syrup that can lead to tooth decay, giving you cavities in exchange for relieving your cough. Here’s more about how cough syrup can damage your teeth and how you can prevent these negative effects from occurring.
Ingredients In Cough Syrup That Harm Your Teeth
Sugar: Many liquid cough medications contain sticky sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and sucrose. While these ingredients make cough syrup a little easier to swallow, they can also lead to cavities. When the bacteria in your mouth begin feeding on the sugars that cling to your teeth, they form harmful acids that damage your enamel.
Citric Acid: Acid wears down enamel, leaving your teeth unprotected from bacteria and other agents of tooth decay. High levels of acidity may also accelerate bacterial growth, leaving your teeth defenseless and under attack.
Alcohol: When you’re sick, it’s not uncommon to experience dry mouth. However, the alcohol added to some cough syrups can emphasize dryness, putting your teeth at a disadvantage. Alcohol is often added to cough syrup to facilitate the mixing of insoluble ingredients, but it can also cause harmful sugars and acids to linger in your mouth. Without saliva to wash away sugary and acidic foods and drinks, your teeth are at greater risk of decay.
How to Kick Your Cold AND Fight Cavities
While taking medication in pill-form is the best option for your teeth, it’s not a viable solution for everyone – especially small children. Here’s how you can minimize the potentially harmful effects of cough syrup on your teeth.
Don’t take it before bed. If you take liquid cough medication right before bed, your mouth will not produce enough saliva to wash it away. Instead, take cough syrup with your meals, which is when your mouth is producing the most saliva. (This will also help you avoid a stomachache!)
Brush your teeth after. If possible, brush your teeth after taking cough syrup to make sure no sugars or acids are clinging to your teeth.
Wash it down with water. Drink a full glass of water after swallowing cough syrup to rinse your mouth out. It’s also important to drink plenty of water while you’re sick – and not rely on solely on sugary sports drinks to ensure proper hydration.
Make Sure Your Teeth Are Protected!
Whether or not you expose your teeth to liquid cough medication, it’s important to visit your dentist regularly for a thorough cleaning and exam. Having your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year helps to prevent cavities from forming, making sure your smile is always bright and healthy. When it’s time for your next cleaning, call Daxon Dentistry, or request your appointment online.