Can Cough Syrup Cause Cavities?

During cold and flu season, many of us reach for the over-the-counter cough remedies to get through a rough bought with the coughing, sneezing, and wheezing that comes from viruses. But a spoonful of cough syrup is typically full of sugar. This article looks at some of the common ingredients you might not think about when you’re hacking away with a flu bug.

A Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down

Today’s most effective cough syrups actually are full of sugar. That’s bad news, especially if you take the medicine right before bedtime. It’s basically like drinking a diet soda right before bed. While it may be difficult to keep up with oral hygiene — even when you feel awful. Here’s why; most cough and cold and flu medications have added:

  • High fructose corn syrup or sucrose, in order to make the medicine taste better. That sugar gets broken down by bacteria in your mouth, turning it to acid that hammers away at tooth enamel while you sleep.
  • Citric acid is also added to cough syrups. While this is a much-needed dose of vitamin C, the acid can wear away your teeth. Some antihistamines have low pH levels combined with a high acid, which is the double whammy for cavities.
  • Alcohol is often added to cough syrups, which is a drying agent. This dries out the mouth. Since saliva is a natural bath for your teeth, this is not a good thing; in fact, the sugars will remain on your teeth even longer.

Diets in Review says some of the worst culprits are Delsym, Robitussin, and Vicks — to name a few.

So, while cough syrup gets the job done well, it’s important to counteract the negative effects of the sugary additives in the medicine. The next section will give you some pointers for the next time you seek over-the-counter medicine for your cold or flu.

Keeping Up with Oral Hygiene Even Though You Feel Lousy

Here’s the good news; there are now sugar-free cough medicines on the market today. Follow this link to see some examples of over-the-counter remedies that won’t contribute to your tooth decay. You’ll be able to find many of these at your local pharmacy.

But you can also counteract the sugar in medications by following these steps:

  • Take the cough syrup with some soup or whatever you’re having for dinner. That way, you’ll have something else to help clean your teeth, and more saliva, as well.
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste after taking the medication.
  • If brushing isn’t an option, just rinse your mouth or drink lots of water after taking the drug.
  • Try taking a pill form of the drug instead of the liquid.
  • Rinse your mouth with mouthwash.

Being sick is no fun; if your child is sick, that’s even harder. Just make sure that the medication you’re giving to your family isn’t causing tooth decay. Contact Truman Orthodontics if you have any questions about the best kinds of sugar-free or low sugar medications that can help your family stay more comfortable during cold and flu season.

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