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Is Cold Medication Giving you Cavities?

Posted on 6/5/2015 by Zac Bird
A collection of cold medicine pills pouring out of a bottle.When you have a cough or cold, you want to do whatever possible to make yourself feel better. Many people turn to over-the-counter medications to ease the symptoms. While this is usually a perfectly acceptable solution, it can really hurt your oral health if you are not careful. Liquid medication oftentimes contains large amounts of sugar to make it taste better. This is especially true for children's medication, but adult medication is just as at risk. This means that you could be putting your mouth at risk for tooth decay as a result.

Read the Ingredients
Before you purchase cold or any type of liquid medication, read the ingredients. See if there is any type of sugar including high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fructose, or any other type of sugar. If you have alternatives, choose those with the least amount of sugar. An even better choice would be to choose the pill form of a medication rather than the liquid.

In addition to sugar, is the need to look for acidic ingredients. Citrus acid is a common culprit in these medications. Acid in medication works just like the acid in foods; it eats away at the enamel of your teeth. When your enamel is worn down, you are at higher risk for tooth decay. Think of the enamel as the shield for your teeth; as it is weakened, your teeth become vulnerable to cavities.

Alcohol is another ingredient that wreaks havoc on your oral health. Alcohol is dehydrating. This means that you produce less saliva, which causes more bacteria to reside in your mouth rather than being washed away by your saliva. When you combine this with the sugar and acids in the medicines you take, you are putting your teeth at high risk for decay.

Caring for your Teeth and your Cold

So how can you minimize the symptoms of your cold while still protecting your teeth? There are several ways.

•  Practice good oral hygiene - If you know that the cold medicine you are taking has sugar or acid content, brush your teeth as soon as possible after taking it. This will eliminate the harmful ingredients from your mouth while still allowing you to alleviate some of your cold symptoms.
•  Stay hydrated - Drink water throughout the day, especially after taking the medication. This helps to promote a larger amount of saliva as well as wash away any sugars or acids that are in your mouth. Water is essential when you have a cold even without medication, as illnesses themselves can deplete your saliva production.
•  Take medication with food - Most medications require you to take them on a full stomach, which means with a meal. If your medication does not specify, still consume it with your meal. This is when your saliva production is higher, which means that the harmful ingredients have a better chance at being washed away, rather than sitting on your teeth.

If you have a cold and are worried about tooth decay, talk to your doctor about what your alternatives are; liquid cold medicine is usually not the only choice. If you must take medication, try to choose pill form. But if you can, use alternative therapies such as steam showers, eating healthy, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting proper rest.

If you must take medication and are worried about cavities, come see us for an appointment. We will help you to properly clean your mouth as well as evaluate if you have the start of tooth decay. At our office, we want you to feel happy and healthy, so please call today!

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Bird Family Dentistry
4707 S Junett St
Tacoma, WA 98409
(253) 777-0252

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Bird Family Dentistry, 4707 S Junett St, Tacoma, WA, 98409-6480 - Key Phrases: dentist Tacoma WA | dentist in 98409 | dentist Tacoma WA | (253) 777-0252 | | 12/15/2017