Cold Medicine and Your Teeth

We are just about halfway through the month of October, which means we are getting that much closer to cold and flu season. Most of us use over the counter medication to relieve some of the symptoms. Unfortunately, some of ingredients in these medicines can contribute to tooth decay.

High Fructose and Corn Syrup: These ingredients are high in sugars, which attack the enamel of your teeth and cause your mouth to become more acidic. In combination with dry mouth, foods high in carbs that are recommended for the flu and decreased oral hygiene, your teeth have an increased risk for decay.

Citric Acid: This type of acid may cause your enamel to wear down and erode. Higher levels of acid also allow the bacteria in your mouth to work at a faster pace.

Alcohol: Some popular cold and cough syrups contain alcohol that has a drying effect on your mouth. Saliva helps to naturally rinse the sugars and acids away from your teeth, and when your mouth is dry less saliva is present, keeping the sugars and acids in your mouth even longer.

If cold or cough syrup is taken right before bedtime, the risks of decay may increase. If you don't brush your teeth after taking the medicine, the sugars and acids stay on your teeth all night. So what can you do?

Take the Medicine with Meals: Taking one of these medications at meal times will allow the present saliva to rinse away the sugars.

Brush: Brush your teeth following each use of these medicines. It will neutralize the acidic environment in your mouth in addition to removing excess sugars. You will also feel better with a cleaner mouth.

Rinse: Rinsing is just as important as brushing in this situation. It will remove excess but also wet your mouth, preventing it from drying out as quickly.

Sugar-Free Gum/Lozenges: When your mouth feels dry, chew sugar-free gum. You should also choose sugar-free lozenges instead of the ones loaded with sugar that sit in your mouth for hours.

Drink Water: Sprite, ginger ale and other sugary drinks are usually a go-to when we are feeling under the weather. Drinking a lot of water will neutralize acids, wash away sugar, and help you heal faster.

Choose the Pill Form: If available, choose a pill form rather than the syrup, since they do not contain sugar or wash over your teeth.


Courtesy of Dr. Perrone

Categories: Blog
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