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The Connection Between Cough Drops & Cavities

By Shakara Robinson on September 11, 2018 in Dental Health


best sugar-free cough drops

When you’re sick with a sore or scratchy throat, it’s natural to reach for a cough drop for relief. They provide temporary comfort on the go with soothing ingredients like honey and menthol. But, are the risks that cough drops pose to your smile more trouble than they’re worth? Here’s some advice for choosing the best sugar-free cough drops. 

THE PROBLEM

Did you know that some of your favorite cough drops contain sugar? It makes sense. Who wants to suck on something that tastes like medicine? Well, you know what that means! Because of the sugar, the more we eat them, the more likely there is to be a negative impact on our smile  and overall health.

Regular cough drops contain sugar, high fructose corn syrup or glucose syrup. They can have as many as 10 to 15 calories per drop! As the cough drops slowly dissolve, you're sucking on sugary, cavity-causing bacteria

Take a second look at the cough-suckers targeted at kids, which are strikingly similar to candy. A single Halls Kids Cherry Lollipop, also made with glucose syrup, has 25 calories per pop. 

The first ingredient listed in their orange lollipops is sugar! Little Remedies Sore Throat Pops for kids are made with corn syrup. If you follow the instructions and “repeat every 2 hours as needed,” your kid may face serious tooth decay!

Sugar isn’t the only ingredient to worry about in cough drops. Repeated exposure to citric acid can also cause tooth enamel to dissolve.

THE FIX

Don’t fret--you don’t have to cut cough drops completely. Brush your teeth after eating them as you would with candy. If you can’t brush right away, rinse your mouth well with water. 

Another plus: most brands offer sugar-free cough drops, which dentists recommend. These are a better alternative to gummy cough drops—which can stick to your teeth and/or pull out dental work.

Check the ingredients on the back of the package to make sure you’re making the best choice for your smile and health. 

Finally, you can always call your dentist with questions. Don’t have a dentist? Find one here!