The average Australian adult suffers from 2 to 4 colds per year. Children suffer more than double that amount on average per year. While colds are not serious, they can interrupt your daily routine enough to leave you reaching for the medicine bottle so you can relieve the symptoms for a while. However, you should be careful what you put in your mouth as far as cough and cold medicine because while they might make you feel better, they may be quietly harming your teeth.
Cough syrups, antihistamines, cough drops and even vitamin C tablets can all contribute to cavities and even cause problems for denture wearers.
Vitamin C Tablets Have a Low pH
Also known as "ascorbic acid", vitamin C tablets have a low pH. Although vitamin C tablets are good for boosting a weakened immune system, because they are highly acidic, even more so than phosphoric acid which is found in soft drinks, they can erode tooth enamel.
Furthermore, if you chew vitamin C tablets while wearing a partial denture, fragments may lodge underneath it and cause tooth decay in your remaining natural teeth. If you wear a partial denture and chew vitamin C tablets, remove your denture afterwards and wash your mouth out with some water to remove the debris.
Try to limit the amount you and your children chew, or even opt for soluble versions instead.
Antihistamines Reduce Saliva Production
A well-known side effect of antihistamines is dry mouth. This is because they limit the production of saliva. Saliva is responsible for protecting your teeth from acidic foods and also has antibacterial properties. For denture wearers, dry mouth causes dentures to chafe, leading to painful sores and even gum disease. If you are taking antihistamines for your cold, or a cough syrup that contains antihistamines, ensure you drink plenty of water.
Cough Syrups Are Highly Acidic
A study at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil found that cough syrups are highly acidic. If you or your children are taking cough syrup before bed, it will be especially damaging to your teeth as the acid will erode your enamel as you sleep. Brush your teeth 20 minutes after taking cough syrup to protect your teeth from erosion.
Do not brush your teeth earlier than this since acidic foods soften tooth enamel and leave them susceptible to damage.
Cough Drops Are Loaded with Sugar
When you have a cold or a cough it can be tempting to suck on a few cough drops throughout the day. However, cough drops are loaded with sugar and so holding them in your mouth for extended periods is akin to bathing your teeth in a pool of acid. Seek out sugar-free cough drops instead or drink some lemon and honey tea.
For more information, talk to a dentist.