Just as candy, sweets and sports drinks can increase your risk for tooth decay, so too can liquid medications. There are a variety of ingredients commonly found in cough drops and syrup medications that can leave you more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities, especially when the medicine is taken consistently over long periods of time.
To create a better taste, many medicines contain high fructose corn syrup and sucrose. These sugars can contribute to decay when bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars and attack the enamel of your teeth. The citric acid in these syrups can also break down the enamel on the teeth. The alcohol found in the syrups can also have a drying effect on the mouth. With less saliva to rinse the sugar and acids away, the more increased risk for decay.
With a few simple steps you can ensure that the cough and cold medicines that you are taking do more harm than good. There are several precautions you can take to ensure the sugars and acids of liquid medications don’t affect your teeth.
- Avoid taking liquid medicines before bedtime. Since there is a decrease saliva flow at night, the residue won’t wash away as quickly.
- After taking medication brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste.
- Rinse your mouth well with water or chew sugar-free gum if you are not able to brush your teeth after taking liquid medicines.
- Calcium supplements and topical fluoride can help to preserve the health of your teeth.
- Take medicines with meals to help wash away the sugars and acids left behind from the syrup.
- Pill form medication is less harmful to your teeth than the liquid varieties.
With proper oral care and precautions, you can keep cavities, as well as colds away this winter.