Can Cough Syrup Lead to Cavities?

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If you’re like most people, you reach for over the counter medications when you get sick.

Many of these medications, especially cough medicine, come in liquid form because of their ability to coat the throat and reduce the frequency of coughing.

But can they cause cavities? Here are a couple points to clear up the confusion.

woman pouring cough syrup

Sugars in the Cough Syrup

There are ingredients in cough syrup such as high fructose syrup and sucrose. This is mainly done in order to mask the taste of the medications. If sugar was not added to the medicine then the medicine would taste bad and no one would want to purchase it.

However traces of these sugars are left behind in your mouth when you swallow it. These sugars can invite bacteria to feed in your mouth. Not only this, but once the sugars are broken down they can attack your enamel as well, making you more susceptible to cavities.

Acidity Levels

Along with sugars, there are also acids in the cough syrup, such as citric acid. Also, some syrups that have antihistamines in them have low pH levels with high acidity. These are a bad combination for your teeth, because they can also wear down the enamel. The more worn down your enamel is, the more susceptible you are to getting cavities.

Cough Syrup Contains Alcohol

Another main ingredient in cough syrup is alcohol. Alcohol dries out your mouth, hampering your ability to produce saliva and cleanse your mouth of the added sugars. The dryer your mouth is, the more likely that food will not be washed away from the tiny cracks and crevices in your mouth.

Taking Cough Syrup Before Bed

Oftentimes cough syrup is taken before bed and will help keep a person from coughing throughout the night. However this also means that it will sit in your mouth and on your teeth. The longer your teeth and soft tissues are exposed to cough medications, the worse off your mouth will be.

cough medicine bottle

How to Combat Cough Syrup Related Cavities

There are a number of things you can do to prevent cavities caused by cough syrup:

  • If you are using liquid cough syrup, then consider taking it at meal times so that there is enough saliva produced to coat your mouth and rinse some of it away.
  • Brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste after taking the medicine.
  • Use pill forms of medications whenever possible.
  • Chew on sugar-free gum after taking the medicine.

If you think that your cough syrup might be causing you to suffer from cavities, speak with your dentist immediately. Contact your dentists at Friendly Dentistry in order to schedule your next visit.

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