Our Dentist in Indianapolis Discusses the Effects of Colds on Your Oral Health
There’s nothing worse than dealing with a persistent cough that just won’t go away. Most people would do almost anything to make it stop, which is when most of us head over to the local pharmacy to pick up some of the best over-the-counter cough syrups.
While this is great for preventing and easing your chest congestion, there's also a link between cough syrups and cavities that our dentist in Indianapolis wants you to be aware of.
The Problem is the Ingredients, Not the Medicine
Many, if not all, cough syrups and lozenges contain ingredients that treat your cold symptoms, however many of these same ingredients also damage to your oral health. Most of these over-the-counter medications contains ingredients such as sugar and alcohol, both which are known to contribute to tooth decay and other oral health problems.
• Sugar – This is a common ingredient in many cough medications for one reason; to make them more palatable. The problem is bacteria love to feed on these sugars and when digested, they release acidic by-products that cause dental problems. This acid wears away at your protective enamel and leaves your teeth defenseless against decay.
• Alcohol – Healthy mouths need to produce an adequate amount of saliva and must remain moist all throughout the day. Saliva neutralizes and washes away any acid left behind by the acid-producing bacteria. The problem is alcohol decreases your mouth's ability to produce the saliva needed to keep things under control. This creates a drier environment, which is the perfect place for bacteria to create acid that wears away at your teeth, increasing your risk of developing tooth decay.
Ways to Reduce Your Risk
Now, just because cough syrups contain these ingredients doesn't mean that you have to suffer through your cold without any relief. There are many ways to actively reduce your risk of tooth decay related to cough syrups.
• Take medication with food – This helps stimulate the production of saliva which washes away any dangerous acids and sugars.
• Avoid cough syrup before bed – Taking cough syrup after you brush your teeth is a bad idea because it allows the acids and sugars to stay stuck on your teeth all night.
• Try capsules instead of syrups – Taking cough medication in the form of a pill greatly reduces the likelihood of sugars or acids meeting your teeth.
If you have any questions at all, or would like to schedule an appointment with our leading dentist in Indianapolis, please call our office at (317) 926-5467.