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Why Your Cough Syrup Causing Cavities?

Why Your Cough Syrup Causing Cavities?
February12/ 2018

We already know the common causes of cavities. Excess sugar intake and lack of oral cleanliness can lead tooth decay.

Nonetheless, because many cough syrups have added sugar for flavor and contain high acidity, people often wonder whether or not the medicine itself can cause cavities and other oral-related issues.

Many cough drops and liquid medications contain a variety of ingredients that make your teeth more susceptible to decay:

The sweeteners in the cough syrup could damage your teeth like junk food does.

  • Ingredients such as sucrose and high fructose corn syrup contribute to decay when the bacteria in your mouth feed upon the sugars, breaking them down and forming acids that attack the enamel of your teeth.
  • The citric acid in the cough syrup can wear down the enamel of your teeth. Moreover, some antihistamine syrups contain low pH levels and high acidity, which can be a dangerous combination for your teeth.
  • Alcohol dries out your mouth, hindering your ability to produce saliva and cleanse your mouth of the added sugars. The dryer your mouth is, the more likely that food won’t be washed far from the tiny cracks and crevices in your mouth.
  • Sometimes cough syrup is taken before bed and will help keep a person from coughing throughout the night. However, this also implies that it will sit in your mouth and on your teeth.
  • The longer your teeth and soft tissues are exposed to cough medicines, the worse off your mouth will be.

These risks can be magnified if syrup is taken before bedtime. The effects of taking liquid medication before bedtime aren’t very different than drinking juice or soda before bedtime because you produce less saliva while you sleep; acids and sugar stay in contact with the teeth longer, increasing your risk for decay.

How to prevent cavities caused by cough syrup:

There are things you can do to lessen the effects of the sugars and acids in liquid medication.

  • If you are using liquid medication, then consider taking it at meal times so that there is enough saliva produced to coat your mouth and rinse some of it away.
  • Try to avoid taking syrup before bedtime considering saliva flow is at its lowest. Saliva is important to help wash away sugary, acidic residue provided by the syrup.
  • Brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste after taking the medicine.
  • If it’s available, choose a pill form of the medication instead of syrup.
  • Chew on sugar-free gum after taking the medicine.
  • Talk with a dental professional if these syrups must be taken consistently to ensure the health of the teeth will be at its best.


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