The Common Cold and Dental Health
When you’re dealing with a cough that just won’t go away, you’d give anything to make it stop. So you do what anyone battling the common cold would do and head to your nearest pharmacy to load up on the best over-the-counter cough syrup you can find. While this remedy can finally make your coughing ease up, there is a link between this soothing fix and cavities that your dentist in Mobile, Fairhope, Bay Minette, Helena, Semmes, and Hoover wants you to know about.
The Danger is in The Ingredients
Most cough medicines and cough drops contain ingredients that, although made to help treat your cold symptoms, can also be damaging to your oral health. Many of the top medicines designed to help suppress that chronic tickle in your throat contain sugar and alcohol – both of which can contribute to tooth decay and other problems.
Sugar is a common ingredient in many medicines for one reason – to make them not taste so horrible. However, these sugars are just the thing that bacteria love to feed on. When bacteria feed on sugars, they release a acidic byproduct. This acid wears away the protective tooth enamel and leave teeth exposed to decay.
A healthy mouth is one that produces saliva adequately and remains moist throughout the day. This saliva helps neutralize and rinse away acids caused by the sugar-eating bacteria. However, when alcohol is introduced into the mouth, saliva production is greatly decreased. Alcohol is naturally drying and inhibits your mouths ability to produce as much saliva as it should. A dry mouth is the perfect place for acid to wear away enamel, increasing the likelihood of decay.
Reduce the Risk
Just because your favorite cough medicine may contain these damaging ingredients doesn’t mean you have to suffer through your cold. There are a few ways you can reduce the risk of tooth decay and still find relief..
- Take your medicine with food. Saliva production increases while eating so it can help wash away dangerous sugars and acids.
- Avoid taking cough medicine right before bed. If you take medicine after you brush your teeth, the sugars and acids stay on your teeth all night.
- Try a pill form of the medicine instead of a liquid. A pill reduces the amount of damaging ingredients that come in contact with teeth.
At our dental offices in Mobile, Fairhope, Bay Minette, Helena, Semmes, and Hoover, it’s our mission to keep our patients healthy, especially during cold and flu season when germs are aplenty. Even if you try every trick in the book to keep germs at bay, sometimes catching the dreaded sore throat, stuffy nose, or constant cough is inevitable. When this happens, we want you to be cautious of how you ease the symptoms to keep your smile healthy.