When you have a sick child, medicine is often a necessity. While it will help to treat your child's ailment, it may not be quite so great for their teeth. Read on to find out how to protect your child's teeth from the medicines they need to take.
When Mary Poppins sang about how a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, what she failed to mention is that it's terrible for your kid's teeth. Some medicines have sugar as an ingredient to sweeten the taste.
When your child is prescribed medicine, always ask your pharmacist for a sugar-free alternative. In cases where there is no such option, try to administer the medicine at meal times and, where possible, avoid giving it at night. If this is unavoidable, get your child to rinse their mouth immediately after and brush with a fluoride toothpaste.
Medicines with Side Effects
A side effect of some medication is a reduction in saliva production. Saliva is needed to protect teeth by reducing bacteria and helping to remineralise tooth enamel. Medicine that causes saliva reduction can increase the risk of tooth decay. If your child is on long-term medication that has this effect, you should discuss what protection can be taken for their teeth with your doctor and dentist. Make sure you schedule regular dental checkups.
In the meantime, older children taking such medicines can chew sugar-free gum to help stimulate saliva, while younger children should take frequent sips of water or carry a water bottle around with them.
It has long been assumed that children with asthma are at a greater risk of tooth decay than those without. A study in 2010 has suggested that this isn't the case. However, there could still be an issue with certain asthma medicines. Most of the medications given in powder form have a pH level of below 5.5 -- this is acidic enough to potentially dissolve tooth enamel. You should not stop using the medication but may want to speak to your doctor to see if there is an alternative.
A good way to protect your children's teeth from this type of medication is to get them to rinse and spit with water immediately after they've taken their inhaler. Avoid letting them clean their teeth immediately afterwards. A waiting period of 30-60 minutes after use will ensure they're not brushing any acidic remains into their teeth. Whether your child takes inhalers with powders, steroid inhalers, or uses a nebuliser, you should follow the same protocol of rinsing and spitting following use.
Dry mouth can also be a problem for people with asthma. This can be a side effect of medications, but can also occur due to the restriction of airflow causing sufferers to breathe through their mouths. If this is a problem for your child, follow the above advice for dry mouths.
Ensure your child brushes twice a day and keeps to a strict dental checkup schedule. Let your dentist know that your child is asthmatic and see if they have any more tips to offer.