Cold Medicine and your Child’s Teeth

During this time of year, allergies and colds can make life tough for both you and your child. To ease your child’s symptoms, you may have to rely on over-the counter or prescription medications. As you scan the list of side effects, be sure to think about the medication’s impact on your child’s oral health.

Many of the active and inactive ingredients found in cough drops and liquid formulations can increase your child’s risk for tooth decay.

High fructose corn syrup and sucrose may be added to medications to improve the flavor. As the bacteria within the mouth process this sugar, toxic acids are produced that can weaken the enamel and cause cavities.

Antihistamines and decongestants are notorious for drying the eyes and the mouth. Without saliva available to neutralize acids and balance the pH, tooth decay can develop quickly. Alcohol and citric acids can also contribute to dry mouth and high acidity, increasing the risk for cavities.

Most medications must be taken at bedtime. Just as you would never give your child soft drinks or fruit juices at bedtime, medications should receive the same consideration. Allowing your child to go to sleep immediately after receiving their dosage could set them up for a full night of bacterial activity.

The same steps that are taken to fight cavities after meals should be employed after taking medications. Brushing thoroughly after each dose is administered will help to remove residual sugars and reduce bacteria. This especially important when dry mouth is a factor.

If brushing is not possible, have your child rinse with water or chew sugarless gum to stimulate the salivary flow.

For added protection, a fluoride mouth rinse can be added to your child’s oral hygiene regimen. For additional information about medications and cavities, call to schedule your child’s checkup today.