Does Drinking Water Benefit Oral Health?

drink glass of waterEveryone knows that it’s important to drink plenty of water every day to keep our bodies well hydrated. In fact, this small step of drinking enough water can greatly benefit overall health. Proper hydration is important to help organs function properly, help fight off infections, and may even assist with weight loss. However, your dentist in Sacramento wants to share a few more reasons why you should choose water — and plenty of it. 

Better Breath

Believe it or not, drinking water and keeping your mouth properly hydrated is one of the best ways to combat bad breath. Bad breath can often be a side effect of dry mouth, an oral health problem whose name describes it perfectly. Dry mouth may be caused by certain medications, mouth breathing, or simply not drinking enough water. While dry mouth may seem like no big deal, it’s especially concerning for your dentist in Sacramento, You see, our mouths need water to produce saliva, but when we’re dehydrated and experiencing dry mouth, saliva production slows or stops completely. That’s when problems arise. Without saliva, there is nothing to help rinse away leftover food particles or mouth bacteria that can contribute to bad breath. 

Cleaner Mouth

When we choose to drink water over sugary beverages such as soda, juice, or sports drinks, we’re not only hydrating our bodies, we’re also helping our mouths stay clean in between brushings. Drinking water, especially when we’re eating, helps to rinse away food particles before they have a chance to linger around and attract bacteria. If not, bacteria will feed on the food particles and release a dangerous acidic byproduct. This acid will attack tooth enamel and leave teeth at increased risk for decay and cavities. Additionally, water is the ideal beverage of choice because it doesn’t contain any sugars. Other sugary drinks may seem to quench our thirst, but the sugars only continue to feed bacteria as opposed to removing their food source.  

Stronger Teeth

Whether you drink bottled water or water from the tap, H2O is always the preferred choice for your dentist in Sacramento. However, while bottled water may provide all of the benefits of hydration, it may be missing one key ingredient that you can typically get from tap water — fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps rebuild and remineralize tooth enamel. The process of remineralization strengthens the enamel, making it super strong and super protective against bacteria, acids, and plaque. 

Overall Healthier You

Water is one of the most important things that we can give our bodies, yet an estimated 75% of adult Americans don’t drink enough water daily. Consequently, this can lead to negative overall and oral health effects. We need to reverse this habit in order to fuel and protect our bodies. But where do you start? A good rule of thumb to follow is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, more if you exercise or sweat, and more especially during these summer months.

3 Reasons The Man in Your Life Should See His Dentist

man relaxingYou’ll always hear your dentist in Sacramento talk about how important it is for everyone to come in for preventive dental checkups every six months. But there’s a special section of our population that tends to avoid these bi-annual visits and instead prefers to wait until they have a problem. We’re talking about the men in our lives. Unfortunately, the truth is that, on average, men don’t see the dentist regularly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, barely 60% of American men between the ages of 18 and 64 went to the dentist in the past year. That’s concerning. So to help celebrate Men’s Health Month, we’re here to share the main reasons men should see the dentist regularly. 

More Complicated, More Advanced Dental Treatment

Since men tend to skip out on visits to their dentist in Sacramento every six months, they’re at increased risk for needing more complicated and more advanced dental treatments. You see, when small problems aren’t caught early when treatment is typically quick and easy, they can become big problems that require more in-depth care. For example, a small area of decay can be caught at preventive dental appointments and treated easily with a filling. But if that area of decay continues to expand and affect more of the tooth’s structure it can start to cause pain. At this point, more advanced dental treatment is probably needed, such as a root canal and a dental crown. Additionally, if the decay progresses even farther, tooth extraction and replacement via a dental implant or dental bridge may be necessary. Long story short — many dental problems can be avoided by seeing the dentist regularly. 

Increased Risk of Gum Disease

We know that regular dental visits can help protect teeth through preventive care and quick intervention of any problems, but these appointments do more than that. Professional dental cleanings, exams, and x-rays help your dentist in Sacramento keep an eye on overall oral health, including the gums. One thing that’s incredibly common and can lead to both oral and overall health problems is gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissues that affects both men and women, but men are more likely to develop the disease. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, 56% of men have gum disease as compared to only 38% of women.

Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss as well as contribute to a host of other problems throughout the body such as an increased risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and prostate health in men. In fact, numerous studies show a possible correlation between gum health and prostate health due to something called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). When gums are inflamed because of periodontal disease or the prostate is unhealthy, PSA levels increase. However, PSA levels are substantially higher in those with both a prostate condition as well as gum disease, suggesting a connection between the two. Gum disease can be treated successfully if diagnosed and treated early. 

Men Are More Likely to Get Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is another scary disease that tends to affect men more than women, and one that can also often be treated successfully if caught early. However, if oral cancer is caught in the later stages, it can lead to death. In fact, over 53,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and nearly 10,000 will die from it. Oral cancer can be found in any of the soft tissues in the mouth, including the tongue, lips, cheeks, or the far back area of the throat (oropharyngeal cancer). Oral cancer is twice as common in men than women, and oropharyngeal cancer is four times more likely to develop in men than women. 

Your dentist in Sacramento is here to protect your oral health and, in turn, your overall health. To do this, we recommend that every member of your family — man, woman, or child — has a preventive dental appointment at least every six months. Call to schedule an appointment today. 

How Long Should You Keep a Toothbrush?

toothbrushMost people look for long-term relationships, both with a spouse and with a group of friends. But your dentist in Sacramento wants you to know that there’s one relationship that should never last longer than three months — your relationship with your toothbrush. We’re not saying that you should stop brushing, we’d never suggest that. But we do recommend replacing your toothbrush four times a year. However, there are times when you should consider replacing it sooner than that. 

Bacteria Buildup

We all know that our toothbrushes are responsible for removing plaque, bacteria, and lingering food particles from our teeth. But think about it: if you never replace your toothbrush, just how much bacteria buildup would be on those bristles? Too much. This is one reason why your dentist in Sacramento and the American Dental Association encourages patients to swap out their toothbrushes (or toothbrush head if you’re using an electronic one) every three to maybe four months. However, bacteria buildup isn’t the only reason why a new toothbrush is needed every so often. As the bristles begin to wear down over time, the toothbrush also becomes less effective at cleaning your teeth, putting you at risk of decay, cavities, and other oral health problems. In fact, there are times when you should replace your brush even earlier than 3-4 months.

What to Look For

How do you know it’s time to get a new toothbrush even if you’re technically not due for one yet? It’s easy, and there are some tell-tale signs that it’s time to trash your toothbrush. You should look for signs in the bristles such as:  

  • Fraying
  • Discoloration
  • Flattening

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to break up with your toothbrush and upgrade to a new one. 

An Important Note

It’s worth noting that even if your toothbrush is in great condition and not showing signs of wear and tear, you should always replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick to lower the risk of reintroducing the illness back into your system. 

Proper Care is Key

To get the most out of your toothbrush and to help make it last the full three or possibly four months, you need to take care of it properly. Follow these tips to get the most out of your short, three-month relationship with your toothbrush. 

  • Don’t Share. Our parents always taught us that it’s polite to share. But they forgot one exception to that rule — your toothbrush. You should never share your toothbrush with anyone, even a family member or child. Sharing your toothbrush is also a great way to swap bacteria. 
  • Always Rinse It. Every time after you brush, it’s crucial that you thoroughly rinse away any extra toothpaste from between your bristles. This also helps wash germs and bacteria down the sink. 
  • Keep It Upright. In between brushings, make sure to properly store your toothbrush with the bristles up. This allows anything lingering around to fall off the bristles as they dry. Speaking of drying, we also recommend keeping your toothbrush uncovered and away from other household toothbrushes.  

Replacing your toothbrush every three months or after a cold is the best way to make sure that it’s in the best condition possible to properly care for your oral health. Additionally, making sure to take care of your toothbrush can extend its life for the full three months. As always, pairing a great oral hygiene routine at home with visits to your dentist in Sacramento twice a year is the best combination to keep your smile healthy. 

What’s It Mean When Your Tongue is Black?

closeup of tongueWe all know that dentists are responsible for overseeing the health of our teeth. But the truth is, your dentist in Sacramento is actually responsible for much more than teeth alone. Your dental team is dedicated to protecting your overall health, and one area that’s of particular interest to your dentist is your tongue. Believe it or not, your tongue can say a lot about your overall health and can show early warning of signs of some serious health conditions. 

What We Look For 

At your bi-annual dental checkups, your dentist and hygienist will take a close look at your tongue. But what exactly are they looking for? First, your dental team will look for any changes in your tongue’s texture since your last appointment, paying particular attention to any bumps or lumps. Next, your dentist in Sacramento will look for any tongue discoloration. A healthy tongue will be pink and covered in teeny tiny bumps called papillae. An unhealthy tongue or one that may be showing signs of a bigger problem may have any of the following:  

1) Black and Hairy – Looking into the mirror and seeing a black, hairy tongue can certainly cause someone to panic. But, however scary and gross this may seem, chances are that a black, hairy tongue is nothing to fear and is usually temporary. It may also help to know that the hairy appearance isn’t actually hair. It’s often a buildup of dead skin cells on the papillae, which causes the normally tiny bumps to take on a long, stringy appearance. 

  • Causes: Poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, dry mouth, changes in the number of bacteria or yeast in the mouth. 
  • Symptoms: Bad breath, change in taste or a metallic taste, hairy or furry appearance, black, yellow, brown, or green coloration. 

2) A Sore, Bumpy Tongue – Every tongue naturally has a bumpy texture, and not every bump is worrisome. However, when a new bump appears and lasts for more than two weeks, or is accompanied by pain or soreness, it may be time to see your dentist in Sacramento. A lump or bump that doesn’t go away may be an early warning sign of oral cancer, and it’s best to get it checked sooner rather than later.

  • Causes: While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are some things that increase the risk including tobacco use, alcohol, too much sun on the lips without protection, or HPV. 
  • Symptoms: Lumps, bumps, or painful sores that don’t go away, chronic bad breath, changes in voice, difficulty chewing or swallowing, numbness of the tongue. 

3) Ridges – Changes in tongue texture may initially be concerning, but ridges or a scalloped appearance on the edges of the tongue are typically harmless. 

  • Causes: Teeth grinding, pushing the tongue against teeth either during periods of stress or even during sleep, sleep apnea, smoking, nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B-12, riboflavin, niacin, or iron. 
  • Symptoms: Ridges, ripples, indents, or scalloped edges on the sides of the tongue.  

4) White Spots – When your tongue appears to be coated in white spots, you may be experiencing oral thrush or leukoplakia. Oral thrush is an infection caused by Candida yeast while leukoplakia is a result of tobacco use or alcohol use. Sometimes, leukoplakia can develop into oral cancer. 

  • Causes: Poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, alcohol use, dehydration, dry mouth, mouth breathing. 
  • Symptoms: White patches or spots or a white coating on the tongue. The white spots or coating can show up either on the entire tongue or just in select places.  

We always recommend that you keep a close eye on your tongue’s health in between your visits, too. If you notice any changes in texture or color or develop sores, contact your dentist in Sacramento as soon as you can. 

Can Stress Cause Oral Health Problems?

man grinding his teehAs we all know, recently everyone’s life has quickly changed, and we’re all experiencing a temporary new normal. But with change and uncertainty also comes quite a bit of stress. Your dentist in Sacramento understands, and we’re with you. While we’re sure that trying your best to avoid getting stressed out is probably high on your priority list, taking care of your oral health may not be. That’s where we come in. Because, in fact, minimizing stress can also help protect your mouth.  

Clenching & Grinding

When we’re dealing with periods of high stress, many people resort to constantly clenching or grinding their teeth. While this is often done subconsciously, it can cause some serious side effects and concerns that we are well aware of. Habitually clenching and grinding over time can cause teeth to wear down and can even result in tooth damage. The constant force placed on teeth during clenching and grinding can weaken the enamel and cause chips, cracks, or fractures to occur. Additionally, stress grinding or clenching puts a lot of pressure on the jaw. This can cause severe jaw pain and even lead to TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder can be serious and lead to long-term pain and problems. Try your best to become aware of any jaw pain you have and work to notice when you may be clenching or grinding your teeth. Also, if you’re experiencing any jaw popping, clicking, or locking, we recommend contacting your dentist in Sacramento.* 

Gum Disease

Gum disease is most commonly a result of poor dental hygiene, smoking, or not keeping up with regular dental appointments or cleanings. But those aren’t the only causes behind this serious oral health disease. Research shows a strong correlation between stress and gum disease. If not treated, gum disease can not only affect oral health and eventually lead to tooth loss, it can also affect overall health. Those with gum disease are at increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, and certain cancers. Some of the common signs of gum disease include bad breath, bleeding while brushing or flossing, or swollen/tender gums. 

Lower Stress to Protect Yourself

Decreasing stress levels can help protect both your overall health as well as your oral health. There are many things you can try to lower your stress, including: 

  • Get Enough Sleep. Sleeping can be tough during times of high stress. But getting enough zzz’s can go a long way in lowering your stress levels. Listening to calming sounds at bedtime, avoiding blue light an hour before going to bed, and keeping a regular sleep schedule are all ways that may help you sleep better. 
  • Meditate. Mediation uses breathing techniques to lower the heart rate and make us feel more relaxed. There are a ton of free apps out there that can help teach you and guide you through meditation sessions. Set aside dedicated time each day to meditate and focus on deep breathing. 
  • Get Active. Hopping on a stationary bike, doing some yoga, or going for a walk will get your heart pumping and release endorphins — which are body-made chemicals that help us feel happier and less stressed.  

Keep in mind, stress and stress reduction techniques vary from person to person. Try to find the best de-stressor that works for you. 

Your dentist in Sacramento hopes that you find a stress-reduction technique that works for you and that during this time you’re able to find peace and relaxation — for both your overall health and wellbeing and your oral health. 

*At the time of publishing, the ADA recommends that all preventive dental appointments and non-emergency consultations be postponed. Please check with your local regulations. 

What is a Dental Emergency?

woman with toothacheNobody wants to experience a dental emergency, and that may be more true now than ever before thanks to all of the confusion and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and dental care. Don’t worry, your dentist in Sacramento and the American Dental Association (ADA) are here to help clarify what constitutes a dental emergency and what doesn’t. 

From The ADA: Classifying Dental Emergencies

The ADA classifies dental emergencies as “potentially life-threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding, alleviate severe pain or infection.” But what exactly does that mean? Some examples of dental emergencies provided by ADA include: 

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Cellulitis or soft tissue infection with swelling that potentially compromises a patient’s airway 
  • Trauma to facial bones that may obstruct an airway and make breathing difficult 
  • Tooth or jaw pain

Urgent Dental Care

The ADA also describes other dental problems that do not necessarily fit into the emergency definition above but still require immediate attention from your dentist in Sacramento. These problems are classified as urgent dental care needs and may include: 

  • Severe dental pain from pulpal inflammation
  • Third-molar pain
  • Tooth fractures with pain or soft tissue trauma
  • Post-surgery complications such as dry socket 
  • Abscess or bacterial infection with swelling
  • Knocked out tooth 
  • Lost, broken, or defective temporary restoration 
  • Cavities or decay that are causing pain

Please note, this list is not a complete list of all possible situations and symptoms. If you believe you have a dental emergency or urgent dental care need, contact your dentist to determine the next steps for your specific needs. 

What’s Not A Dental Emergency?

As of April 1, 2020, the ADA has recommended that all dental offices postpone all routine dental visits until at least April 30th. This means that there are several circumstances in which you should wait to schedule an appointment including: 

  • Routine checkups and cleanings
  • Consultations for procedures such as cosmetic dentistry
  • Follow-up appointment for treatments like tooth whitening
  • Cavities that do not cause pain
  • Extraction of teeth that are not causing pain

During these unprecedented times, please help us and your community stop the spread of COVID-19 by staying home and only seeing your dentist for emergency or urgent care. We hope you stay safe and healthy, and we can’t wait to see you soon. 

*Note: Recommendations for dentists and patients are changing regularly. Please check your local recommendations for the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and dental care. 

How The Keto Diet Affects Oral Health

keto dietStarting a new diet can be both exciting and difficult, and there are many different types of diets to choose from. One of the most common diets is the Keto Diet, and its followers often find weight loss success. But as with all diets, the Keto Diet does come with potential negative side effects. There’s one in particular that concerns your dentist in Sacramento — bad breath. 

How The Keto Diet Works

The Keto Diet helps people lose weight by forcing the body to burn fat instead of glucose. Dieters essentially cut their intake of carbohydrates, and the sugars that come along with them, and increase their consumption of high-fat foods. This causes the body to enter ketosis, which is when the body burns fat instead of glucose. The result is often successful weight loss. But there’s another thing that happens as a result of ketosis — the byproduct of three ketones called acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone. The acetone is what may cause Keto Dieters to experience bad breath. 

Acetone & Bad Breath

Even though our bodies produce acetone, it can’t be used to store energy –  so our bodies release it through either urination or the lungs. Acetone has an unpleasant odor, so when it’s passed through the lungs, the smell can be transferred to our breath. Bad breath from the Keto Diet doesn’t necessarily happen to everyone, but those it does affect can find resolution by brushing and flossing daily and by seeing their dentist in Sacramento at least twice a year. Additionally, those who are on the Keto Diet long-term may become “keto-adapted,” which means the bad breath will go away. 

Keto Diet Benefits

Besides helping people lose weight, the Keto Diet may also benefit oral health. Carbohydrates contain a lot of sugar, and it’s no surprise that your dentist in Sacramento isn’t a big fan of sugar. But by eating fewer carbs, we’re also cutting back on the amount of sugar our teeth are exposed to, reducing the risk of decay and cavities. You see, when we eat sugary foods (including carbs), the bacteria in our mouths feed on the sugar and release an acidic byproduct. This acid can cause tooth enamel to weaken and puts teeth at greater risk for decay. But when we limit sugary foods as Keto Dieters do, we can protect our teeth from these acids. In fact, some research shows that decreasing foods with a lot of carbs can lower the likelihood of cavities and even gum disease by 50% or more. 

Before You Start, Ask

As with any change to your eating habits, you should talk to your doctor prior to starting the Keto Diet or any diet. What works well for one person may not be appropriate for someone else, so make sure to discuss your plans with your physician. Additionally, we would also recommend talking with your dentist. The truth is, what we eat affects our oral health just as much as it affects our overall health. Your dentist can give you advice as to what you should expect with your oral health on a new diet. So before you start any diet, ask your medical team what would be best for you.

3 Ways to Prevent Bad Breath

woman with bad breathWe’ve all experienced the embarrassment of bad breath at some point in our lives. Maybe it was after a hearty dish of garlicky pasta or your morning cup of coffee. Or perhaps it’s something you deal with every day. Either way, we think it’s pretty fair to say that nobody wants to live with bad breath. That’s especially true for your dentist in Sacramento. In fact, for us, chronic bad breath goes beyond embarrassment and may actually be a sign of a serious oral health condition. 

What’s So Bad About Bad Breath?

To some, bad breath may seem like no big deal, and sometimes that’s true. Temporary bad breath that’s caused by something we ate or drank is usually nothing to concern yourself with. However, when bad breath doesn’t go away even after brushing your teeth, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Sacramento. Bad breath is one of the top signs of a serious oral health condition called gum disease. Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss, which brings on a whole other set of problems. But it doesn’t only put your oral health at risk. Gum disease has also been linked to heart disease, respiratory problems, and increased risk for stroke among other serious whole-body concerns. 

Causes of Bad Breath

There are numerous things that can cause us to have less than fresh breath outside of the foods and drinks we consume. However, the common, underlying cause of bad breath is attributed to a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. If these bacteria are not removed by properly brushing and flossing daily, they will feed on plaque buildup and produce a stinky byproduct called hydrogen sulfide. This is what we smell when we get a whiff of bad breath. 

How to Avoid Bad Breath

The best way to treat bad breath is to prevent it in the first place. Here are a few things you can do that will help keep your breath kissably fresh.  

  1. Brush and Floss. You’re probably tired of hearing your dentist in Sacramento talk about how important it is to brush and floss regularly. But the truth is this is the best way to not only prevent bad breath, but also protect your overall oral health. Brush your teeth every day for about two minutes, and make sure you gently brush your tongue, too. Floss at least once a day to remove food particles and bacteria that found their way deep in between teeth.
  2. Drink Plenty of Water. Many health experts will recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day to help our bodies function optimally, and we agree. Staying properly hydrated helps neutralize acid and wash away bacteria that could otherwise lead to bad breath. When a mouth is too dry, bacteria can take over and the chance of bad breath increases. 
  3. Maintain Dental Visits. Seeing your dentist at least every six months will do several things for your oral health. First, these visits give your dental hygienist the chance to perform a professional dental cleaning that can remove plaque and tartar that at-home brushing alone just won’t touch. If it’s not removed, plaque and tartar can cause bad breath as well as decay, cavities, and other concerns. Also, bi-annual dental visits make sure that your oral health is being monitored regularly so if any problem does pop up your dentist can treat it quickly, easily, and often prevent other problems. 

Chronic bad breath isn’t something that will go away on its own, and it can lead to more serious and costly dental treatment down the road. If you have bad breath that you can’t quite seem to fix, schedule an appointment with your dentist. 

The Surprising Connection Between Gum Disease & Heart Disease

heart health monthEvery February, we celebrate Heart Health Month to raise awareness of how we can both evaluate our risk for heart disease as well as what we can do to reduce that risk. While it may seem out of character to hear your dentist in Sacramento talk about heart health, the truth is, there is a direct link between poor oral health and an increased risk of heart disease.  

Gum Disease & Heart Disease

The main concern between oral health and heart disease is gum disease. Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissues that, if left untreated, could lead to painful gums and even tooth loss. But that’s not all. Gum disease has also been linked to an increased risk of heart attack. 

When infection infiltrates our gums, it also has a direct pathway to the bloodstream. And when infection enters the blood, your body reacts by producing an overabundance of C-Reactive Protein (CRP). Elevated levels of CRP can cause: 

  • inflamed arteries
  • blood clots
  • heart attacks
  • strokes 

Too much CRP may even be one of the top warning signs of a heart attack. In fact, according to The New England Journal of Medicine, elevated CRP levels can be more accurate at predicting a heart attack than high cholesterol.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Now that we know that gum disease can affect more than just your oral health, let’s take a closer look at what causes it in the first place. Gum disease is usually caused by a buildup of plaque brought on by poor oral hygiene. The first stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. Quick intervention from your dentist in Sacramento can help the problem from becoming more serious, but if gingivitis isn’t treated it can quickly progress and put overall health at risk. 

Gum disease can come on suddenly, and sometimes without any symptoms. Other times, symptoms are mistaken as normal and treatment isn’t sought. This is one reason why seeing your dentist regularly is so important. Your dental team will be able to diagnose gum disease early if you visit every six months, making treatment more successful. 

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Some of the most common signs of gum disease include: 

  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Puffiness or tenderness of the gums
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Loose-feeling teeth

If you do notice any of those symptoms, contact your Sacramento dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as you can. 

Gum disease can more than double your risk of suffering a fatal heart attack or stroke. Reduce your risk by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and of course, seeing your dentist every six months or as recommended. Other steps you can take to protect yourself include not smoking and eating a well-balanced diet. 

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.