Frightened Dental PatientCough medications like lozenges and syrups bring relief when you or someone in the family has a cough or cold. The thing is, most of them contain ingredients that can contribute to your risk for cavities. This is especially true for inactive components used to improve the taste and color of the medicine.

Sucrose and Fructose Corn Syrup

Family dentists in Horseheads, New York, note that some liquid cough medications contain other types of sugar can fuel the bacteria in your mouth.

This can result in an acid attack and enamel erosion. If combined with poor oral hygiene and dry mouth, high levels of sucrose and fructose corn syrup can put your teeth at heightened risk of decay.

Citric Acid

This type of acid is also commonly present in some cough medications. The sad part is, it allows the bacteria in the mouth to multiply faster and then attack the enamel. It is important to note that citric acid does not affect the therapeutic effect of the medication; it is only added to enhance its flavor.


Cold and cough syrups that contain alcohol can have a drying effect on the mouth. When there is low saliva flow, it will be easier for sugar and acids to linger on your teeth. This can then increase your risk of decay or cavities.

What Can You Do?

You don’t have to completely avoid cough medications when you or a loved one needs some relief. To minimize the effect on your teeth, you may want to take the syrup at mealtimes instead of before bedtime. This is to have enough saliva that can help in rinsing away the sugars and the acid.

It is also advisable to brush your teeth an hour after taking the syrup. If brushing is not possible, rinse your mouth with water or chew sugar-free gum. You can also choose a tablet form of medication if suitable and available.

When taking cough syrup or any other form of liquid medication, keep up with proper oral hygiene. Don’t forget to visit your dentist at least every six months to prevent or reduce your risk of cavities and other dental problems.