It’s inevitable that your child is going to catch a cold here and there; maybe more than just a few during their childhood years. But we’re willing to bet that you may be part of the million of American parents that never really thought that the cough medicine they give their children could be causing big problems while suppressing that cough or clearing up that sniffly nose. Those medications that so many of us rely on to provide relief can also cause tooth decay and cavities.

Laden with sugar to help your child choke down their dose, cough syrups are right up there, alongside candy, soft drinks and juices, as cavity-causing monsters.  Coupled with the sugar, many contain antihistamines, which have high acidity and pH levels and increase the enamel-dissolving capabilities of your family’s cold and allergy medications. The answer doesn’t have to be that your child suffers needlessly through seasonal allergies or the annual flu, however. Follow these tips to lessen the negative dental effects of cough syrup and protect your child through that cold:

  • Don’t give your child cough syrup at bedtime. The sugary substance is likely to sit on tooth surfaces all night long, breaking down its protective enamel. If you must give the dose at bedtime, make sure your child brushes their teeth and rinses thoroughly.
  • Rinse afterwards. Considering the taste of most medicines, sugary or not, this may be something your child prefers anyway. Just make sure they are rinsing with water and not with juice or soda.
  • Take medications before meals. Food, and its saliva-inducing properties will help to further remove the sugars and acids that are so harmful to teeth.
  • Protect for the long-term. If your child suffers from allergies on a routine basis, it may help to talk to your dentist about applying a dental sealant on your child’s teeth for a more comprehensive and reliable protectant.