March 24, 2020
COVID-19 has the ability to cause mild to severe symptoms, including a dry cough. While these symptoms can be similar to a flu, it’s very important to seek medical attention if you experience fever, cough or difficulty breathing. In the meantime, you may reach for cough medicine in order to ease your symptoms, but the type of cough medicine you choose matters as many products out there do not take your oral health into account. When choosing cough medicine, it’s important to keep these points in mind.
What Ingredients are In Your Medicine?
Cough medicines work to relieve your cough quite well. However, the ingredients in them largely do not taste very good. For this reason, companies add large amounts of sugar in order to make them more tolerable. Unfortunately, these medicines can also increase your risk for cavities and tooth decay because of how they coat large portions of the mouth in sugar, including the teeth and gums. This makes your mouth a breeding ground for bacteria. After they consume the sugars from the cough medicine, they produce plaque acids, which start eroding tooth enamel and gum tissue.
Another common ingredient included in cough syrups is alcohol, albeit a very small amount. While sugar can work to dry the mouth out, alcohol can do so as well. If your mouth is dry, it lacks the saliva it needs to neutralize dangerous acids and reduce the number of harmful bacteria inside the mouth.
In order to reduce your risk of developing dental disease as you get over your illness, here’s what you should do moving forward.
How to Treat Yourself Without Hurting Oral Health
The good news is you can take the medicine you need without sacrificing your oral health in the first place. For example, you should opt for pills over liquid medication. Liquid cough medicines can coat the mouth with sugar and alcohol, while pills (which can still come in liquid form for faster-acting properties) can avoid this entirely.
Furthermore, it’s always better to take cough medicines with food if you can. Eating a meal is a great way to kickstart your saliva production, which you’re going to need to keep harmful bacteria at bay. If you must take liquid cough medication, do so with a meal so you can stop harmful sugars and alcohol from causing damage.
Finally, make sure to brush your teeth after taking your medicine, especially if the medicine asks you to take it before bed. If you take cough syrup before bed without brushing, the harmful ingredients in the medicine can linger in your mouth throughout the night, hurting your teeth and gums while you sleep.
As you recover from your illness, whether it’s a cold, the flu, or COVID-19, you shouldn’t have to deal with a cavity after the fact! With these tips in mind, you can protect your overall health as well as your oral health!
About the Author
Dr. Stephen H. Grossman performs detailed dental exams in order to prevent all forms of tooth decay and gum disease. With decades of experience practicing dentistry and periodontics under his belt, he’s more than prepared to help you and your family maintain long-term oral health and create smiles that you’re proud to show off. To learn more about his practice, you can contact him through his website.
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