Don’t Trade One Health Problem for Another This Cold Season

When it comes to seeking relief from common cold symptoms, many people don’t realize that they may be trading one health problem for another.

Most cough drops and throat lozenges contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup and citric acid. Some also contain pectin to coat and soothe the throat. Sucking on these sticky, sugary concoctions bathes the teeth in sugar and binds to the plaque in between teeth. Over time the sugar decays the teeth, especially root surfaces that are much softer than the hard outer layer of enamel.


“Drops and lozenges are made to taste good and provide relief for scratchy throats so many people suck on them hour after hour,” said Dr. Kristi O’Kane of O’Kane & Monssen Family Dentistry. “Sometimes people even fall asleep with one in their mouth — all of this is extremely bad for the teeth and causes tooth decay. The solution is to go sugar-free.”

Most of the major manufacturers – Halls, Ricola, Luden – make sugar-free products that contain the same medicated ingredients to temporarily suppress coughs and soothe irritated throats.


Dr. O’Kane also suggests taking a sugar-free approach to breath-freshening mints and chewing gum. As for candy canes and other hard candies this holiday season, she believes occasionally indulging on these treats is okay as long as it is followed by brushing and flossing.

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