Sweetened Medications Can Cause Cavities

Now that cold and flu season is in full swing, parents should remember to protect their child’s dental health while they’re giving them over-the-counter medications and cough syrups.

These medicines, say researchers in the journal General Dentistry, contain acids and sugars that can cause erosion of tooth enamel. The sugars can come into contact with germs that live in the mouth in plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. The bacteria feed off sugars and starches, producing acids that can destroy the hard surface of the tooth, called the enamel.

What's the best way to fight seasonal ills and protect teeth?

Researchers agree topical fluoride and good oral health habits can protect teeth. They also recommend dosing with meals instead of at bedtime, when sugary medications have all night to damage teeth and having the child rinse his or her mouth with water or chew sugar-free gum after taking medications.

Talk to your child's dentist about any medications he or she is taking for more detailed instructions or visit the American Dental Association Web site for recommendations on good oral hygiene: www.ada.org.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

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