Common Colds and Dental Health

Indianapolis Family Dentists Discuss 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 is also a link between cough syrups and cavities that you should probably be aware of.
The Problem is The Ingredients, Not the Medicine
Many, if not all, cough syrups and lozenges contain ingredients that help treat your cold symptoms, however, many of these same ingredients can cause damage to your oral health. Most of these over-the-counter medications contains ingredients such as sugar and alcohol and both have been known to contribute to tooth decay and other oral health problems.
Sugar – This is a common ingredient in many cough medications for basically only one reason; to make them more palatable. The problem is that bacteria love to feed on these sugars and when digested, they release acidic by-products that can cause problems. This acid wears away at your protective enamel and can leave 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 helps to neutralize and wash away any acid left behind by the acid-producing bacteria. The problem is that alcohol decreases your mouth 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 will wear away at your teeth, increasing your risk of developing tooth decay.
Ways to Reduce Your Risk
Now, just because cough syrups contain these ingredients does not mean that you must suffer through your cold without any relief. There are many ways in which you can actively reduce your risk of any tooth decay related to cough syrups.
Take medication with food – This helps stimulate the production of saliva which will help wash 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 one of our leading Indianapolis family dentists, please call our office at (317) 926-5467.
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