Cough Medicine & Oral Health

cough syrupEveryone knows how miserable the common cold can be. When we come down with a case of the sniffles or an annoying cough, we’re willing to do almost anything to make it stop. While medications to treat the symptoms of a cold can help suppress a cough or ease a stuffy nose, your dentist in Sacramento knows that they don’t come without risks to oral health. 

The Danger is in The Ingredients

Many medications that we take to help us feel just a little bit better when we’re battling a cold contain ingredients that can put our oral health at risk for decay and cavities. The main two culprits that concern your dentist in Sacramento are sugar, which is used for flavor, and alcohol. Let’s take a closer look as to why this duo is dangerous for our teeth. 

Sugars

The truth is, most medicines don’t taste great, but the addition of sugar can help make them a little more tolerable. However, even though these sugars may make the medicine go down, they can contribute to tooth decay. The two most concerning medications that are used often when treating a cough are liquid cough syrup and cough drops — both of which typically contain a nice dose of sugar. The dangers are made even worse when we suck on cough drops throughout the day since our teeth are essentially bathing in the sugars all day long. As we all know, dentists don’t like sugar, mostly because bacteria love it. Bacteria in our mouths will feed on sugars and release acid as a byproduct. This acid is what wears away tooth enamel and leaves teeth at increased risk for decay

Alcohol

The other dangerous ingredient in many cough medicines is alcohol. Alcohol is known to cause dry mouth which may not sound like such a big deal, but in reality, it can cause a whole host of problems. Normally, our mouths produce a lot of saliva throughout the day which helps wash away sugar and bacteria and neutralize acids. However, when the mouth is too dry to produce enough saliva to protect the mouth, it’s easier for bacteria and acid to attack teeth. 

Protect Yourself

By no means are we suggesting that you have to forego cough medicine or cough drops altogether. But we do want you to be aware of some ways you can reduce their potential side effects on your oral health. Some things you can do to protect yourself while you’re treating your cold include: 

  • Brushing your teeth after you take cough medicine. This can help remove the sugar and alcohol instead of allowing it to hang around in your mouth all night long. 
  • Taking medicine while you eat. As we chew our food we produce more saliva to help with digestion. This extra boost in saliva can reduce the dangers of sugar and alcohol.
  • Using a pill medication instead of a liquid. A capsule of cough medicine removes the risk of sugars and alcohol. 

During this cold and flu season, if you do happen to get sick, try these tips above to help reduce the risk of oral health concerns caused by cough medicine. 

Is Biting Your Lip Bad For You?

woman biting lipWhen we accidentally bite our lip, the pain that follows can be concerning. The zing of pain, and maybe even some blood, can certainly cause us to think that we may have just done some serious damage. But is lip-biting actually bad for you? Let’s check in with your dentist in Sacramento to see just how big of a deal biting our lip (or cheek or tongue!) is. 

Biting Is Bad — Sometimes

The truth is, there are really two answers to whether biting the soft tissues in our mouths is bad for us. On one hand, occasional bites typically heal on their own and usually aren’t something to worry over. On the other hand, when biting becomes a habit or you find yourself accidentally biting your lips, cheeks, or tongue a lot, it can cause inflammation, swelling, and sores. These sores can become infected if not treated or if they’re constantly being reopened by more biting. 

Why Do We Bite?

We’ve all experienced those accidental bites we talked about above while chewing or perhaps during a big sneeze. While these one-off biting incidents sure can hurt, even for a few days, they’re often not something to be concerned about. 

However, when the accidental bites happen often, you should see your dentist in Sacramento. Those who tend to bite their lips, cheeks, or tongue a lot while they’re eating or even talking may have something known as malocclusion or a bad bite. A bad bite means that our top teeth don’t line up well with our bottom teeth, and that makes it really easy for a piece of the tongue, lip, or cheek to get stuck in between them (ouch!). Additionally, malocclusion can lead to its own set of problems like headaches, jaw pain, TMJ (temporomandibular disorder), and shifting teeth. 

There are also cases where people habitually bite their lips, cheeks, or tongue. Usually, this is a response to high-stress situations or even when they’re concentrating. Constant biting on the tissues, whether caused by psychological or physical factors, should be stopped before it leads to sores or painful swelling. 

How To Stop

Depending on what’s causing you to bite in the first place, there are things you can do to help yourself stop. 

  • If biting is caused by stress… If you’re one of the people who constantly chew on your lips, cheeks, or tongue, it can be difficult to stop. However, if you’re able to recognize when you bite, you can work to consciously stop. There are also times when a type of behavior therapy can help break the habit. 
  • If biting is caused by a bad bite… Those who don’t purposely bite but find themselves accidentally nipping their lips, cheek, or tongue often can benefit from a trip to their Sacramento dentist. The best way to prevent additional problems is to seek dental help to determine if a bad bite is to blame. Your dental team can help you find the best treatment for your individual case so you can stop biting.