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Cough Syrup Cavities: A Reality

Although the first day of summer has arrived, this Irvine family dentist likes to keep with the motto, “better safe than sorry.” Unfortunately, even with the sun heating up there are never any guarantees of staying free of coughs, colds and the flu, which make our lives so miserable! To help ourselves heal quickly we often times reach for over-the-counter medications to ease symptoms, but next time you do keep this in mind: Mary Poppins wasn’t wrong when she said a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down!

One unmentioned side effect of medicine is tooth decay because many cough drops and liquid medications contain certain variety of ingredients that make your teeth susceptible to decay.





These ingredients include:

  • High fructose corn syrup and sucrose—nope they’re not just in your Twinkies. These ingredients are the major source for the bacteria in your mouth, which form acids to break down tooth enamel.
  • Citric acid, which also wears down enamel.
  • Alcohol, not a total surprise with popular culture displaying it as a possible substitute for drinks. Lil’ Wayne—anyone? I know, how does this Irvine family dentist even know?
In addition, the risks for tooth decay are magnified if medicine is taken before bedtime. In fact it can be seen as the equivalent to drinking juice or soda before sleep—due to the lessened amount of saliva produced during sleep, which usually helps rinse sugars away.

So what is the solution? Just stop taking medicine? Absolutely not! Some helpful ways to reduce decay are to: take medication at meal times, brush your teeth after medicine or rinse well, and if possible take the pill form of your medication if that is available.

For more information on cough syrup and decay, contact your Irvine family dentist today at (949) 857-1270!