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Is your cough syrup causing cavities?

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

Cough syrups are not usually supposed to taste good; they are medicine after all. But someone decided to change to make it more palatable and by extension, more marketable. So three inactive ingredients — high fructose corn syrup, citric acid and sucrose– were added to cough syrups to make it easy on the tongue. But in the bargain, it ended up harming the teeth instead.

If you are wondering whether you heard of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose before, these are common ingredients often associated with junk food. Everything from candies, cakes, soda, juice, chocolates, etc. are loaded with these sweeteners. In fact, corn syrup is touted to be a bigger villain than sugar itself. These sweeteners are known to increase the risk of obesity, heart diseases and metabolic syndrome.

While moms are poring through ingredient labels of food to weed out any food with corn syrup, they are oblivious to the presence of these sweeteners in children’s cough syrups. Even adults are known to chug down this liquid cough medicine for its sleep-inducing effects since constant cough can keep you awake at nights.

Dental expert Dr Nandakumar believes that reposing excessive trust in the cough syrup could be ruining dental health. “In the dry weathers, people reach out for cough syrups to get some respite from the persistent coughs. But the sweeteners in these medicines invite bacteria to feed on them,” he explains. The bacteria then secrete a strong acid which erodes the dental enamel, causing tooth decay.

“Most people have the habit of drinking cough syrup right before bedtime. After which, they go straight to bed without washing their mouth or gargling. This gives the bacteria enough time to proliferate and release the harmful acids,” he says.

What you should do

There’s no need to shun cough syrup entirely. Following some basic oral hygiene rules will help.

-Wash your mouth immediately after you consume cough syrup. Don’t go to bed immediately.

-Brush lightly to remove traces of the medicine.

-Have it with food. That way, your mouth will produce enough saliva to wash off traces of the cough syrup.

February 12, 2018 8:00 am