Clinician's Corner

April 2017

Might want to grab a bottle of water after reading this column! (it is cheaper however if you drink it out of the faucet!)

Have a soda...and a smile??

Dr. Rod Messner has this to say about soda consumption: "When I was in Dental School at Temple University, one of the professors gave us first year dental students a most discouraging prediction: with every city fluoridating their water the upcoming generation will have teeth that will never dec... most of you will probably starve, as drilling and filling is our bread and butter" . "Since I first heard that statement 32 years ago, one thing has been made very clear to me: Human behavior always trumps good science! The science related to the deleterious effect of regular consumption of soft drinks is good science as well as the voluminous data related to systemic fluoride."

"However, when our patients regularly ingest 6 liters of Mountain Dew per day, (yes 6 liters) no amount of flossing, tooth brushing, or fluoridated mouthrinse is going to help this patient! What we do know about the dental effects of soft drink consumption is that when compared with caries, dental erosion seems to have a much stronger relationship with soft drinks. In order to advise your patients on ways they can reduce dental caries risk, low-calorie and sugar-free foods should be recommended. However, sugar-free soft drinks often have as high an erosive potential as sugar-containing soft drinks."

Dr. Messner provides these great insights, and 32 years since he heard that prediction we Americans are doing very little to decrease soda consumption. Consider the following: According to the New York Times 5% of the federal "food stamp" budget (SNAP) is spent on these soft drinks, while the category of "sweetened beverages" (energy drinks, fruit juices and teas) accounts for 10% of the grocery bill. The Department of Agriculture is coming under fire for "subsidizing the soda industry"
Here is the history of how much soda Americans consume:
  • 1970- Americans consumed 20 gallons soda per year (7-oz/day)
  • 1981- Americans consumed 32 gallons soda per year (11oz/day)
  • 2002- Americans consumed 54 gallons soda per year (20oz/day)
  • 2015- Americans consumed 41 gallons soda per year (14oz/day)
It's called "pop" in the Midwest and most of Canada. It's "soda" in the Northeast. And it goes by a well-known brand name in much of the South. Where I live in Blair County, Pennsylvania is on the edge of the "pop versus soda" line. Folks to our west in Pittsburgh call it "pop" and the folks to our east call it "soda". Horry County, South Carolina, home of PharmCon it is called by a well-known "brand name". Yes there is a website: !!

  • Larger serving sizes make the problem worse. From 6.5 ounces in the 1950s, the typical soft drink had grown to up to 20 ounces by the 1990s.

Three ingredients in this delicious, fizzy drink cause the problems with our teeth:

  • Sugar: obvious contributor to dental caries. Note that this also includes corn syrup! This we see regularly as one of the top food additives to avoid in our diet for better health!!
  • Phosphoric acid: gives the "bite" to soft drinks. The pH of soda, and our mouths have a lot to do with the destruction of the enamel of our teeth.
  • pH of a soft drink ranges from 2.47-3.35
  • pH in our mouth is normally about 6.2 to 7.0
  • At a pH of 5.2 to 5.5 or below the acid begins to dissolve enamel on our teeth
  • Citric acid: Non-cola drinks contain citric acid which is also harmful to teeth
As far as interprofessional interactions with dentists and pharmacists, Dr. Messner offers the flowing closing comments: "It is necessary to educate out patients about the harmful effects of excessive soft drink consumption and to advise them with the following tips to prevent dental erosion and caries: limiting soft drink intake, choosing low erosive soft drinks, improving their drinking habits, toothbrushing at least twice per day, and avoiding brushing teeth within 1 hour after consuming acidic food, and using a fluoride or a remineralizing toothpaste."
I remember as a kid growing up, seldom was there soda in our house. We had to go to our Grandpa's house for a visit if we wanted such a treat. I remember well the 7 ounce soda bottles, and how there were judiciously passed out to us youngsters. As we discussed last week, about 2/3 of the municipal water supplies are fluoridated and with the large increases in consumption of sugared beverages and soda-pop, we are confident that our fellow health care clinicians in the dental profession will be plenty busy… for a long time! Once again, I want to express my sincere appreciation to Dr. Rodney Messner for his input on this column. With over 30 years of clinical experience, and an extremely busy schedule I'm delighted to have him contribute his expertise to this column. Have a great day on the bench!!

"Keeping teeth strong with fluoride!
Dr. Rod Messner is a huge fan too! "

Fluoride---friend or foe??

How fluoride works: The risk of dental caries is reduced due to the uptake of fluoride by enamel cystallites and formation of fluorhydroxyapatite which is resistant to acid solubilization. Fluoride is anticariogenic because it replaces the hydroxyl ion in hydroxyapatite with the fluoride ion to form fluorapatite on the outer surface of the enamel. Fluorapatite hardens the enamel and makes it more acid resistant. Fluoride also has demonstrated antibacterial activity. Fluoride is most beneficial from birth to age 12 because unerupted permanent teeth are mineralizing at that time. Whether a person receives fluoride supplementation depends on the concentration of the drinking water. Adding fluoride to the water reduces dental caries by 25%. Because of this contribution to public health, the CDC named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. The American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the US Public Health Service and the World Health Organization all support fluoridation of water.

Sources of fluoride:
  • Drinking water: About 66% of the US population lives in a municipality with a fluoridated water system. The United States Public Health Service recommends an optimal fluoride concentration of 0.7 milligrams/liter (mg/L). This concentration of fluoride in drinking water is the concentration that provides the best balance of protection from dental caries while limiting the risk of excess fluoride (dental fluorosis).
  • Dentist applied: fluoride based varnishes and gels can be applied directly to the teeth during a dental visit.
  • OTC mouthwashes: Children under the age of 6 years should not use mouthwash, unless directed by a dentist, because they may swallow large amounts of the liquid inadvertently.
  • Rx Gels and toothpastes such as Prevident 5000 and others. Rx products deliver about four times as much fluoride as do the OTC products.

Does it work?

The prevalence of dental caries in at least one permanent tooth (excluding wisdom teeth) decreased from 90% among those aged 12-17 years in the 1960s to 60% among those aged 12-19 years in 1999-2004. Obviously, people should drink municipal water to get the benefits of fluoride! And that includes the astronomical rise in soda consumption… which we can talk about next week... You can check your water supply, or the water supply where you practice at this website:

How to supplement patients whose water supply is not fluoridated:

Water concentration of Fluoride Age of patient Supplementation mg/day
>0.6 ppm of fluoride 6 months - 3 years 0mg
3 years - 16 years 0mg
0.3 - 0.6ppm of fluoride 6 months - 3 years 0mg
3 years - 6 years 0.25mg/day
6 years - 16 years 0.5mg/day
<0.3ppm of fluoride 6 months - 3 years 0.25mg/day
3 years - 6 years 0.5mg/day
6 years - 16 years 1.0mg/day

Patient Care tips for Fluoride supplements
  • Fluoride supplements (oral) are prescription only.
  • All tablet formulations MUST BE CHEWED! Chewing "pulverizes" the fluoride into the enamel of the teeth
  • Milk and other dairy products may decrease absorption.
  • Available as Luride® (sodium fluoride) 0.25mg chew,0.5mg chew, 1mg chew, as well as Luride® solution 0.5mg / ml.
  • Sodium fluoride:2.2mg= yields 1mg active fluoride ion; 1.1mg= 0.5mg active fluoride ion
  • Most recommend fluoride be given at bedtime after kids brush their teeth.
  • Fluoride may be ingested from bottled water or juices that have been fluoridated

Dr Rod Messner says: "Fluoride works! It is safe, and many water systems have been adding fluoride to the water system since the 1950's without any issues except for the decline in caries"

Dr. Rodney A. Messner, DMD

Where I live in Blair County Pennsylvania, we have 30 different water systems. ONLY the Tyrone water system is fluoridated.The major municipalities in our county of Hollidaysburg and Altoona do not fluoridate their water supply. There was a controversy back in 2013 about eliminating fluoride, where the Borough Council voted to eliminate fluoride supplementation. After many meetings, and our local dentists bringing evidence they had accumulated comparing the Tyrone patients to the patients who didn't have fluoridated water and the council reinstated the supplementation of fluoride to our water supply.

"Keeping up the confidence of denture wearers...with safety in mind!"

A look at Denture Adhesives... are they necessary? ...well sometimes

Denture adhesives are pastes, powders or adhesive pads that may be placed in/on dentures to help them stay in place. In most cases, properly fitted and maintained dentures should not require the use of denture adhesives. Over time, shrinkage in the bone structure in the mouth causes dentures to gradually become loose. When this occurs, the dentures should be professionally relined or new dentures made that fit the aging mouth properly. Denture adhesives fill gaps caused by shrinking bone and give temporary relief from loosening dentures. They are effective; however, they are NOT a permanent solution!! If denture is ill-fitting, refer to a dentist.

How they work: The denture adherent holds dentures in place while chewing or speaking. They also form a seal that keeps food particles from sticking between the dentures and gums, which can be a problem with whole grains, or even fiber laxatives like Metamucil.


  • Paste Application: Most patients use too much! Just a "pea-sized" amount in 4-5 locations on denture is plenty. Examples: Fixodent, Polygrip, Effergrip
  • Powders: Easier to clean. Better initial retention but falls sharply within the first six hours. Examples: Fixodent, PolyGrip and Klutch
  • Thin Adhesive Liners are available as wafers or pads less messy or "gooey" to apply : Example: Sea-Bond.
Remind patients to scrub off the adherent each time the dentures are cleaned.

ZINC in Denture adhesives??

  • Active ingredients: polymethyl vinyl ether-maleic anhydride (PVM-MA) zinc and calcium salts with carboxymethylcellulose.
  • The problem becomes: Chronic, excessive ingestion of zinc can result in copper deficiency, which is an established and increasingly recognized cause of neurologic disease, causing weakness and numbness of the extremities.
  • Some marketed denture adhesive creams, including certain Fixodent and Poli-Grip formulations, contain zinc at levels of about 17 to 34 mg/g.

WHAT does the ADA (American Dental Association have to say:

To earn the ADA Seal: Clinical data demonstrating the effectiveness of the denture adherent in providing increased biting force, increased retention, and that the integrity of the dentures is not affected by the adherent. Effergrip®, is the only adherent that has the ADA seal. It has coloring agents, dispersal agents, wetting agents and adhesives: Polymethylvinylether maleic acid calcium, Polyethylene Oxide, Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose (also thickens). It is zinc free.

Dr. Rod says: "I tell my patients that the selection of a denture adhesive is what works best for them. It's a vanilla or chocolate thing. I tell patients to use them, they do help! If they are doing some public speaking or going to a special event…..USE THEM!! Provides an extra level of confidence.”

Dr. Rodney A. Messner, DMD

Pharmacists Role: Remember, a film of saliva helps hold dentures in place. Inadequate saliva flow may cause dentures to be loose. Inadequate saliva flow may be due to prescription and OTC medications, such as anticholinergics (Bentyl®, Levsin®), tri-cyclic antidepressants (Elavil® is the worst), or first generation antihistamines (Benadryl). Treatment options could be changing to Pamelor® (nortriptyline) which is less anticholinergic and using the second or third generation antihistamines like Claritin or Allegra.

Special thanks to Dr. Rodney Messner from Cherry Tree Dental Associates for his practical hints for this column!

"Care and feeding of your dentures! Once again I had to consult an expert!"

Daily care tips for denture wearers:

Don't let dentures dry out...

The teeth of a denture are typically made from various types of resin or porcelain. Place them in a denture cleanser soaking solution or in plain water when you're not wearing them. Never use hot water, which can cause dentures to warp. Dropping a porcelain denture might result in breakage. Most all dentures made today are plastic(acrylic), both the teeth and the pink denture base, very few have porcelain teeth. Many dentures are broken by dropping them in the sink. Also be careful with your beloved pet, dogs love to get a hold of dentures!

Brushing the dentures...

Brushing dentures daily will remove food and dental plaque, and help prevent them from becoming stained. Always brush dentures over a folded washcloth. If the dentures slip out of the wearers hand, a washcloth might prevent breakage. Patients can use special creams for dentures, or any toothpaste. Some sources recommend dishwashing liquid (Dawn works great) or hand soap to clean dentures.

What NOT to do...

Do not use any household abrasives. A regular or denture brush works fine, but patients should not rely solely on denture cleansers. Some dentures have a permanent soft liner, this material requires special care, a patient should not use conventional brushing methods for these. They are given a special solution to clean them with at the time they were given their denture.

Take care of your mouth...

Brush your gums, tongue and palate every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you insert dentures. This stimulates circulation in your tissues and helps remove plaque. Up to half of those wearing dentures will develop a fungal infection called oral stomatitis (candidiasis). But there are some tips you can follow to prevent this infection, as well as keep you smiling, eating, and speaking with confidence

Give your dentures a rest...

Remove dentures out for 6 to 8 hours a day to allow the tissues of your mouth to heal from any soreness or irritation that may have occurred throughout the day. Removing dentures while sleeping is a good way to give the mouth a rest.

Consult your dentist...

See your dentist if dentures break, chip, crack or become loose. Don't be tempted to adjust them yourself — this can damage them beyond repair. Never should a pharmacist recommend a “denture repair kit”, this is best left to the dental professionals to fix any damaged denture. Patients should NEVER super glue their dentures! Most of the time dentists are professionally unable to repair them after they have been glued.

Adjust your eating habits...

Cut foods into smaller pieces to allow better chewing or adding gravies or a pat of butter to soften up some foods for chewing. Chew on both sides of your mouth to avoid dislodging dentures while eating. Avoid chewy types of food like caramel and hard foods like nuts, which can loosen your dentures.

Soaking the dentures...

Alkaline peroxide cleaners are the most common. When dissolved in water become alkaline solutions of peroxides, releasing oxygen for mechanical cleaning. Soak 4-8 hours. Best for new stains and plaque. soaks are useful for inhibiting growth of Candida albicans, which can cause stomatitis. Examples are Polident and Efferdent.
Hypochlorite: (bleach) removes stains, bacteria, fungi. Hypochlorite dissolves plaque, but not calculus when formed. Example: Dentural® Sodium Hypochlorite (0.5% NaOCl solution) is effective in decreasing microorganisms without changing the color of the denture resin.
Avoid persulfate, it may cause allergic reactions. Acid containing solutions. Shorter soaking times recommended. May be used with ultrasonic cleaners. Usually contain citric acid, examples are: Polident®, Stain Away®.

See your dentist...

Just because a patient may not have all their natural teeth, they still have gums, and an oral cavity that needs to be routinely checked by their dentist. A dentist will also check the fit of the denture, which is extremely important as a patient ages, and has changes to the structure that holds the denture. Dr. Rod Messner recommends a once a year checkup. Pharmacists role in medication management: Please note that currently MANY medications, such as anticholinergics, cause varying degrees of xerostomia which adversely effects denture retention.

"We’ve been discussing dentifrices for over a month now, all along the goal is to achieve stronger and healthier teeth. This week we will discuss what happens when things don’t go as planned, and our denture wearing patients come to us for advice. Nearly 69 percent of adults between 35 and 44 have lost one or more permanent teeth, and 26 percent of adults aged 74 are missing all of them. We have a lot of products in our dental aisle that caters to denture wearers, it is time we get familiar with them!"

"Once again Dr. Rod Messner from CherryTree Dental Associates provided his expertise in writing this column."

Dr. Rodney A. Messner, DMD

"He shared with me many practical hints, especially with denture breakage and repair. Since we don't have any pets I never thought of dogs as being a danger to dentures! One of my local pharmacists told me of an elderly patient whose grandchildren hid her dentures, so she would stay for a longer visit!"

March 2017

"Brushing and flossing do the cleaning, but is your breath fresh and 'kissable'?"

Mouthwashes - the finishing touch!

Now that we have brushed our teeth for two minutes with an ADA approved soft toothbrush, with a pyrophosphate free fluoride ADA approved toothpaste, as well as cleaned our inter-dental spaces with appropriate ADA approved dental floss, the question becomes can we get “kiss-ably close”! The final class of dentifrices we can recommend to get more than a peck on the cheek is to try an ADA approved mouthwash!

There are two distinct mouth washes. We have at our disposal those “cosmetic” mouthwashes that just freshen our breath, and the “therapeutic” mouthwashes that actually do something positive for our mouth. Let's briefly discuss “halitosis” and other mouthwashes.

The major contributor to halitosis is the presence of “volatile sulfur compounds”. These volatile sulfur compounds arise from the breakdown of foods, as well as dental plaque and the bacteria associated with oral disease. Hydrogen sulfide (paper mill smell or rotten eggs) and dimethyl sulfide (smell of the ocean) account for about 90% of the volatile sulfur compounds found in breath and are produced by anaerobic bacteria. High protein foods, such as eggs, meat and fish when broken down by the anaerobic bacteria cause the highest concentration of volatile sulfur compounds. These bacteria can live in all of the corners of the mouth, between teeth and in the “nooks and crannies” of the tongue.

Cosmetic mouthwashes: are best defined by what they don't do. They simply leave the mouth with a pleasant taste, but don't deal with the causes of bad breath, kill the bacteria that cause bad breath; or help reduce plaque, gingivitis or cavities.

Therapeutic mouthwashes: rinse for at least 60 seconds, then spit out.
  • Control plaque and gingivitis (chlorhexidine, povidone iodine,cetylpyridium chloride -CPC- and essential oils) Using a mouthwash with povidone iodine, essential oil, CPC or chlorhexidine significantly reduced plaque and reduced bacterial indicators of gingivitis. Cetylpyridium chloride is an antiseptic that kills off the offending bacteria. CPC decreases dental plaque and gingivitis and remains in the oral cavity 3-5 hours. CPC was developed to control plaque and gingivitis without essential oils ie "medicine breath". Chlorhexidine products (Peridex) are prescription only. Chlorhexidine may cause staining of the teeth, which is easily removed by a dental hygienist.
  • Strengthen teeth (fluoride) For added protection against tooth decay, usually contains about 0.05% of Sodium Fluoride (NaF). Fluoride reduces demineralization by strengthening and protecting the enamel on teeth.
  • Whitener (peroxides) bleaching agent, usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. This helps to whiten teeth and remove stains over time. Products that contain 10 percent carbamide peroxide yield approximately 3.5 percent hydrogen peroxide. These products may also cause dentin hypersensitivity.
  • Alcohol levels can be as high as 20%. Best to avoid these with alcoholics as well as teenagers because of potential abuse. May also cause increase in tooth sensitivity by dissolving away the mucus layer that protects teeth.
  • Xerostomia “dry mouth”-- be sure to use sugar free products, as well as alcohol free dental rinses. Dental rinses containing alcohol may cause increased dryness. Because of reduced salivary flow, sugar free products are needed to decrease chance of tooth decay. (such as Biotene® or Oasis® mouth rinse).

"So 1879 was a pretty amazing year, not only did Edison invent the light bulb, and Albert Einstein was born, but Dr. Joseph Lawrence and Pharmacist Jordan Lambert developed Listerine. One hundred years later, Professor Pete would be in Pharmacy School!.

Special thanks to Dr. Rod Messner for reviewing the content of this article."

"Dental floss...not just for corn-on-the-cob season!! We should use it every day!"

Who would ever think DENTAL FLOSS could cause a controversy??

We all have that spool of “nylon yarn” in our bathrooms. Some of us use it a lot more than others. Flossing helps remove plaque by reaching areas that a brush cannot reach, but reports show that as few as 3% to 18% of patients floss daily. By removing debris from these hard-to-reach tooth surfaces we may see a reduction in the likelihood of gum disease and tooth decay. Dental floss was formerly made of silk, today is made of nylon filaments or single strand plastic monofilaments. Look for the American Dental Association Seal of Approval before purchasing dental floss.

To earn the ADA Seal of Approval…
  • The product components are safe for use in the mouth.
  • Unsupervised use of the product by the average patient will not harm hard or soft oral tissues or restorations
  • Tensile strength: high tenacity “nylon yarn” is best because:abrasion resistance of nylon, when drawn over rough surfaces. Elasticity of nylon is greater allowing it to pass through close places and over rough surfaces with less filament breakage.
  • Both Reach® (J&J) and Oral-B dental floss are ADA approved

What floss should I buy:
Simply stated it is the patients choice based on preference, waxed or unwaxed, flavored or not flavored..
  • Large gaps between teeth: Try dental tape or Super Floss, or JJ Reach® woven floss.
  • Tight spaces: recommend a waxed floss or Oral-B Glide®
  • Less mess: disposable flossers or floss in pre-measured strands.
  • Braces or bridges:A spongy floss is worthwhile, but any floss is OK with dental appliances, especially if you have a floss threader. Super floss is also a good choice.

Is flossing worth the effort:
Flossing Controversy: August 2, 2016- New York Times “There is some evidence from twelve studies that flossing in addition to toothbrushing reduces gingivitis compared to toothbrushing alone. There is weak, very unreliable evidence from 10 studies that flossing plus toothbrushing may be associated with a small reduction in plaque at 1 and 3 months. No studies reported the effectiveness of flossing plus toothbrushing for preventing dental caries.”
  • ADA response: In this case, while the average benefit is small and the quality of the evidence is very low (meaning the true average benefit could be higher or lower), given that periodontal disease is estimated to affect half of all Americans, even a small benefit may be helpful. The other side of the benefit-risk analysis is an absence of documented harms as well as minimal cost to patients.
  • The Association also released a statement in response to the news story, reiterating its recommendations to maintain oral health, which include "brushing for two minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between teeth once a day with an interdental cleaner and regular dental visit advised by your dentist." The ADA also stated that interdental cleaners, including floss, "are an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.

"Once again, I had to consult my friend the dentist for his input on this column. Dr Rodney Messner of Cherry Tree Dental in Wisconsin helped by making specific brand recommendations for all of the floss products I listed."

Dr. Rodney A. Messner, DMD
Dr. Rod advises: "There is reliable data correlating periodontal disease and heart disease. I have yet to find a dentist that has told their patients there is no need to floss. Flossing does more than just clean the spaces between the teeth-- it might even protect the heart!

"So, this pharmacist will tell you...keep flossing… even when you are not eating corn-on the cob!"

"My dentist friend guided me for this column. Lots of great information that was challenging for me to find! Special thanks to Dr. Rodney Messner."

Hot tea or cold drinks bother your teeth??

Last week we discussed in detail the characteristics of the toothpastes that we sell in our pharmacies. Sensitive teeth, known as “dentin” hypersensitivity occurs when stimulus (hot, cold, chemical or physical) is applied to tooth. Dentin becomes exposed by gingival recession or enamel loss.

Enamel is the hardest surface in our body, which consists of 96% hydroxyapatite which is a combination of calcium and phosphate, the bones in our body contain 70% hydroxyapatite and the dentin in our teeth is also 70% hydroxyapatite. Dentin contains tubules which are an open pathway between pulp, and dentino-enamel junction.

Hot, cold or mechanical stimulus causes increase in fluid flow through tubule, causing pain at the underlying nerve (or pulp). Dentin hypersensitivity is typically found in patients whose dentin has become exposed due to gingival recession, periodontal therapy and most commonly loss of tooth enamel.

As we discussed, tooth abrasion from brushing and toothpaste selection can contribute to the wear and tear on the enamel, which exposes the dentin, and allows pain transmission through the tubules. 55-75% of patients may experience tooth sensitivity during professional whitening treatments.


The most important step in treating dentin sensitivity is to STOP destructive habits such as aggressive or vigorous cross brushing.Use soft toothbrushes!! 50% of all damage occurs the first 20 seconds of brushing – lots of toothpaste, causes lots of abrasion. Review the “Modified Bass Brushing Technique”- a lot of dental professionals have a saying “It is not the brush, it is the brusher!”
  • Consult your dentist, dental hygienist, or pharmacist to recommend a toothpaste with a lower RDA (Relative Dentin Abrasivity).
  • Recommend twice-daily use of a desensitizing dentifrice. Active ingredients include stannous fluoride, strontium chloride hexahydrate, and aluminum, potassium or ferric oxalates and fluorides. While studies show improvement in patients’ perception of pain, the effectiveness of these products at reducing symptoms appears to increase with increased usage. Patients will experience more benefit the longer they use these products.
    • Fluoride dental paste: (Prevident-5000 plus®) written as a prescription, works by forming the precipitate calcium fluoride which plugs the tubules. Remind patients to brush on this dentifrice and do not swallow. Patients should not rinse and spit. Fluoride is an effective agent to control dentin hypersensitivity and to prevent root caries particularly when used in higher concentrations.
    • Potassium nitrate (5%) (KNO3) alters membrane potential along the dental nerves, after passing through dentino tubules. Also helps occlude the exposed dentino tubules, and decreases flow. Potassium nitrate lowers nerve sensitivity, by blocking the synapse between nerve cells, reducing nerve excitation and the associated pain.
    • Strontium chloride hexahydrate (10%) is an effective means for reducing the discomfort and pain caused by thermal and tactile stimuli in patients with dentinal hypersensitivity. Strontium works by exchanging calcium for strontium in biological processes. Strontium also impairs nerve stimulation by changing stimulus transmission. These treatments reduce flow into the dentin tubules by occluding or sclerosing the tubules.
    • Prevident® 5000 Sensitive teeth contains 5% potassium nitrate along with the Sodium Fluoride 1.1% (which is 4 times stronger than OTC toothpaste).
    • If no relief after twice daily brushing for 2 or 3 weeks, recommend a visit to dentist.

"There is so much for us health care professionals to know, that is why we have 'specialties'! For this column, I struggled finding the mechanisms of action for the many ingredients in these toothpastes for dentin hypersensitivity. My dentist friend Dr Rod Messner came to the rescue again this week. His input, again this week was most valuable."

Dr. Rodney A. Messner, DMD
Dr. Rod says: I prefer using fluoride in my practice to desensitize the dentin. I try to stay away from the stannous fluorides because of the metallic taste, compliance usually becomes an issue at some point. Patients just quit using it at some point. Recently I began to prescribe products such as MI paste(GC America) and 3M’s Clinpro 5000, which contains sodium fluoride. Both these products possess regenerative capability. They taste good so compliance is improved.

"Toothpaste-- how to select a dentifrice, and cause minimal problems. I even had a dentist help me with this column..."

Toothpaste ...helping our patients select a product that won't harm their teeth!

Every morning before heading to work, and every evening before going to bed, we put a dollop of this stuff called toothpaste on our toothbrush. Here is what is in it that amazing stuff that makes our teeth so white, and our mouths so sparkling clean:
  • Fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel and remineralize enamel.Fluoride is most commonly available as Sodium fluoride (NaF), stannous fluoride (SnF2), and sodium monofluorophosphate (Na2PO3F).
  • Humectants, such as glycerol, propylene glycol and sorbitol are added to prevent water loss in the toothpaste.
  • Flavoring agents, such as saccharin and other sweeteners improve taste.
  • Thickeners and binders stabilize the toothpaste formula. They include mineral colloids, natural gums, seaweed colloids or synthetic cellulose.
  • Detergents such as sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium N-Lauryl sarcosinate, cause foaming when contacted with water and manual brushing.

The American Dental Association Seal means that:
  • The toothpaste must contain fluoride
  • Must not have any excipients (flavors, sweeteners) that can cause tooth decay
  • Must not be “too abrasive”

“RDA” for toothpaste? We are familiar with the Recommended Daily Allowance for our vitamins, but there is an RDA for toothpaste, which refers to the Relative Dentin Abrasivity. This is a scale the industry uses to make sure the formulations are not too abrasive to the enamel and can expose the very sensitive dentin, either by wearing down the enamel or causing gingival recession.
Pyrophosphate: Tartar control toothpastes cause more problems than good. The pyrophosphates work to decrease tartar formation by binding up the calcium and magnesium in saliva which blocks tartar formation on the teeth. Tetrasodium pyrophosphate is the most common pyrophosphate.
  • These pyrophosphates in the mouth can form an alkaline solution which can cause irritation.
  • Pyrophosphates have such a bitter taste more flavoring agents are used which can cause hypersensitivity.
  • More detergents are added to make the pyrophosphates soluble which also causes hypersensitivity.
  • Patients with reduced salivary flow are at highest risk for hypersensitivity reactions
  • The tartar control toothpaste might make our teeth mores sensitive to hot or cold temperatures.ns

Chances are when any patient has a red ring around his lips or redness inside the mouth, I always ask what type of toothpaste, and most often it is a tartar control toothpaste. Tartar control toothpastes work on the surface of the teeth to block tartar buildup. However, the sub-gingival tartar (below the gums) is the problem! Tartar control tooth pastes cause a lot of hypersensitivity reactions, and only work above the gum line. That is why we must go to the dentist at least every six months to get the sub-gingival tartar removed- our brush and toothpaste doesn’t do the entire job. Do we even need toothpaste? According to the American Dental Hygienist the most important factor in plaque removal is the mechanical action of the toothbrush!

"As a community pharmacist we all have our toothpaste sections. The ingredient panel lists all kinds of compounds, and some of those compounds can cause excess abrasion or even hypersensitivity reactions. Of all the available resources out there not one is more useful than a practicing dentist. One of my friends Dr Rod Messner, who practices in Wisconsin reviewed this newsletter for content. He also pointed out that the RDA numbers are rather proprietary in nature and most manufacturers are not willing to share this information. The RDA scale starts with just a toothbrush equals 4; toothbrush and baking soda=7 and the FDA upper limit is 200. Any number over 150 is considered to be at the "harmful limit." I suggest doing a google search of "RDA toothpastes" and there are several dentist sites with this information. Thanks to Dr. Messner, I will be switching my brand of toothpaste!"

"Check out your toothbrush....might be due for a springtime replacement...I'll take the blue one!"

Four minutes a day we should be grabbing this tool.

Proper brushing twice daily and flossing at bedtime are preventative measures. Next week we can discuss the available toothpastes, so this week we can focus on the toothbrush, which really does all of the work.

Toothbrushes should be soft, to decrease gingival irritation. Soft bristles are best, they can reach tighter spaces, and do less damage to gums. Brush teeth in a circular motion. Floss daily.

REMIND patients to replace their toothbrush about every three months or sooner if the toothbrush bristles show signs of wear. Best to replace toothbrush after any illness. Bristles that are frayed or damaged are ineffective and may harbor harmful bacteria that could increase the risk of periodontal disease. As toothbrushes wear, they lose their effectiveness. Look for the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval, which governs sharpness of bristles, bristle retention and other safety parameters.

Yuck! Here are some hygiene tips to consider when caring for your beloved toothbrush:
  • Store your toothbrush in an upright position after each use and allow them to air dry. Storing a moist toothbrush in a closed container promotes microbial growth more so than leaving it exposed to the open air.
  • We all store our toothbrushes on the sink in the bathroom. Toothbrushes do harbor bacteria including fecal coliform bacteria (like E. coli) that can be released into the air when the toilet is flushed or can be spread to the toothbrush when cross contaminated with another bathroom surface.
  • Although probably not necessary, you can disinfect your toothbrush by soaking in Listerine (26.9% alcohol) or hydrogen peroxide 3% solution.

Powered toothbrushes

Both manual and powered toothbrushes are effective at removing plaque. Remember as with manual toothbrushes, to replace the brush head every 3-4 months. Although the powered toothbrushes are more expensive, they might have the following advantages over the manual toothbrush:
  • People who have dexterity problems—like the elderly, people with disabilities, or children
  • Ease of use for patients with dental appliances such as braces
  • A variety of powered toothbrushes that use a different types of head movement (side-to-side, counter oscillation, rotation oscillation, circular, ultrasonic) are available.
  • People brush longer with the powered toothbrush.Most have a two-minute timer to insure brushing duration is adequate.

"We Pharmacists and our Physician Assistants colleagues in the Emergency Department unfortunately see a lot of dental problems. Hardly a day goes by where we are not filling a Clindamycin and Ibuprofen prescription for someone with significant dental decay who was just seen in the ED. Unfortunately neither profession can adequately treat these "mechanical problems" and a trip to the dental office is the only effective resolution.We will spend the next couple of weeks exploring the dental sections in our pharmacies. Prevention of dental problems is truly the key to improving our patients dental health. It all starts with the toothbrush!

The most important rule for toothbrush selection at the Kreckel house is this: I get the blue toothbrush. Mrs. Kreckel is free to buy any color toothbrushes that are on sale, as long as mine is blue!"

February 2017

"Canker sores, what to do when someone pulls down their lip and asks for your advice!"

Canker sores (Aphthous ulcers)

What: Aphthous ulcers are painful, round shallow lesions with a grayish base. Recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS) is the most common cause of mouth ulcers. Some patients may have only two to four outbreaks per year, while others may have almost continuous eruptions.

Who: Aphthous ulcers are seen most frequently in childhood and adolescence and decrease in frequency in adulthood. There seems to be a familial tendency. It is not caused by any infectious agent (virus or bacteria).

Why: There seems to be an association between recurrent cases of canker sores and an overactive immune system, so topical immunosuppressant medications (such as topical corticosteroids) are of benefit.
  • Exacerbated by: trauma, hormonal factors, and emotional stress. Avoid trauma to mouth when brushing teeth.Avoid eating “sharp” foods like nacho’s and chips to minimize oral trauma.Cover sharp edges of braces with dental wax.
Over the counter treatment options include:
  • Benzocaine:Zilactin-B as we discussed last week forms a protective film over the lesion, and can be applied every 6 hours. Benzocaine helps decrease the pain, but should be avoided in kids under age 2 because of methemoglobinemia.
  • Peroxyl® rinse (peroxide) to cleanse the sores
  • Deficiency in the “blood building” supplements such as folate (folic acid), vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 or zinc. Vitamin B-12 sublingual 1000mcg dissolved in the mouth may be effective in treatment/prevention of canker sores. (
Home remedies include:
  • Applying ice chips directly to the ulcer
  • Rinsing mouth with a baking soda solution: 1 teaspoonful of baking soda to ½ cup of warm water.
  • Dab a small amount of milk of magnesia to the canker sore a few times per day.
If all else fails, Rx treatment of canker sores: Because corticosteroids inhibits cell proliferation and is immunosuppressive, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory they are the mainstay for treatment of aphthous ulcers.
  • Dexamethasone elixir 0.5mg/5ml. Rinse and spit out.
  • Triamcinolone dental paste 0.1%
  • Magic Mouthwash: Benadryl/Maalox/lidocaine2% viscous—equal parts
  • Chlorhexidine gluconate mouth rinses reduce the severity and pain of ulceration but do not affect the frequency.
"So we now know that the canker sores are NOT caused by viruses. There seems to be a connection between an "overactive" immune system that causes these to break out. Celiac and Crohn's patients are frequently plagued with canker sores. Patients with frequent complaints should be checked for vitamin deficiencies as well. Recurrent canker sores can be challenging."

Is there any value in OTC cold sore remedies?

"Are our patients throwing away good money on OTC cold sore treatment?..unfortunately the answer is probably "YES"."

Cold sores are a quite common complaint year-round, but seems to become more prevalent this time of the year. Cold sores or herpes labialis are caused by the Herpes simplex virus Type-1 and is abbreviated as HSV-1. Recurrent herpes simplex labialis occurs in 20% - 40% of the US population. It is estimated that 67% of the population are affected by the virus. Although the disease is self-limiting in the immunocompetent, patients seek treatment because of the discomfort and visibility of a recurrent lesion.

The virus: Reactivation of HSV-1 occurs in the trigeminal sensory ganglion. This leads to the occasional breakout of the virus where the site of infection is usually the border of the lips. Patients with oral herpes infection should be informed that HSV-1 can be transmitted through oral sex to their uninfected partner resulting in genital ulcers. 50% of new cases of genital lesions in the developed world are caused by HSV-1


Zilactin® (benzyl alcohol 10%) which is OTC contains hydroxypropyl cellulose which is a bioadhesive that adheres to mucus membranes and may be used to protect lesions from irritants for up to six hours. Remind patients not to peel off the adhesive film. Also, available at Zilactin-B which contains benzocaine 10% is for use inside the mouth to help numb the lesions.

Abreva® contains docosanol needs to be applied five times daily for a maximum of 10 days. Complete treatment resulted in decreased duration of the lesion by only 18 hours.
Mechanism: inhibiting fusion between the herpes virus and human cell plasma membrane. The end result is that the virus can’t enter into the host cells and multiply.

Sunscreens: some patients will experience cold sores when they are exposed to large doses of ultraviolet light. Sunscreens are of great benefit to these patients. Sunscreen should be applied before direct UV exposure.

Emollients/Protectants: white petrolatum, zinc oxide, cocoa butter relieve cracking and dryness. They do nothing to speed up healing. Many OTC products are seen in combination with camphor, thymol and benzocaine. Avoid any products that contain salicylic acid that can further break down the affected skin. Many of these products contain sunscreens as well.

Lysine: dosed as 1000mg one to three times daily may show a decrease of frequency of recurrence and severity of the lesions. Is of minimal value.

What does work: Rx antivirals
I encourage my patients to have on hand (in their medicine cabinet) oral antivirals so they can take at the first sign of tingling (prodromal phase). The oral antivirals are very effective if taken during the prodromal phase. Here are the doses for cold sore prevention.

Drug Name Brand Dispense Instructions
Acyclovir 400mg Zovirax® #20 capsules Dose: Take one capsule five times a day
Famciclovir 500mg Famvir® #3 tablets Dose: Take 3 tablets as a single dose
Valacyclovir 1gm Valtrex® #4 tablets Dose: Take 2 tablets twice daily for one day

"I give my patients a handout with the above chart, and tell them to have their physician or dentist write a prescription for two courses of any of these antivirals. My favorite is Valacyclovir. The patients can begin treatment as soon as they experience prodromal symptoms.

Topical antivirals such as Acyclovir 5% (Zovirax) , Penciclovir 1% cream (Denavir), Acyclovir-5%/Hydrocort-1% (Xerese) must be applied five times daily. They are not as effective as the oral antivirals and cost more than $500 a tube. Do not recommend these products. "

Nasal sprays - three drugs, three different mecanisms of action

Sodium chloride 0.65% in purified water (USP), made isotonic with sodium phosphate/sodium hydroxide, with phenylcarbinol and benzalkonium chloride as preservatives.
  • Use: relief to dry, irritated nasal passages due to colds, allergies, dry air, pollution, smoke, air travel, and use of decongestant/steroidal sprays
  • Patients using saline irrigation show faster resolution of symptoms, less frequent reappearance of rhinitis, and reduced use antihistamines/decongestants.
  • Dosed on an as needed basis. No side effects

CROMOLYN (Nasalcrom)
  • Mechanism: mast cell stabilizer. Mast cells release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators.
  • Dose: one to two sprays three to four times daily. Ages 2 to adult.
  • Adverse effects: minimal if any.
  • Efficacy: less effective than glucocorticoid nasal sprays like fluticasone (Flonase), may be ok for mild allergy.

  • Brief exposure (cat exposure) : 30 minutes before exposure. Efficacy: minutes to a couple of hours.
  • Prolonged exposures (seasonal allergies): four to seven days in advance. Should be used before pollen season.

  • Mechanism: sympathomimetics (alpha adrenergic: vasoconstriction) that act on adrenergic receptors in the nasal mucosa creating vasoconstriction. They shrink swollen mucosa and improve ventilation.
  • Not recommended for kids under 6 years.
  • Dose every 10-12 hours. Maximum of 2 doses per day.
  • Maximum of three to five days to minimize risk of rebound congestion.

Rebound congestion (rhinitis medicamentosa)
  • Cause: “overuse” of topical nasal decongestants, specifically α-adrenoceptor mediated down-regulation and desensitization of response.
  • Presentation: bright red, swollen nasal membranes
  • Treatment: gradually withdraw the nasal decongestant, one nostril at a time.Replace with saline nasal spray until completely withdrawn.Nasal corticosteroids are of great value
  • Oral decongestants, and topical nasal corticosteroids may be of some value. One study showed reversal of rebound congestion with fluticasone.

"We covered corticosteroid nasal sprays last week. This will wrap up our topical nasal section."

Best choice for allergic rhinitis if used correctly!

Topical nasal corticosteroids have emerged as the MOST effective treatment of allergic rhinitis. Glucocorticoid nasal sprays are more effective than oral antihistamines for relief of total nasal symptoms, including blockage, sneezing, discharge, itch and postnasal drip, and. Currently two are available without prescription, with more to make the switch from Rx to OTC.

The Rx product Veramyst (fluticasone furoate) will be making the switch to OTC in February 2017 and will be named Flonase® Sensimist. Although these drugs are extremely effective, and now very inexpensive, proper administration technique is necessary for optimal results. Pharmacist consultation is necessary to achieve patient satisfaction and symptom relief.
  • Mechanism: inhibits the activity of multiple cell types, such as mast cells, basophils, eosinophils, neutrophils, macrophages, lymphocytes, and mediators of the inflammatory response. Decreases capillary leakage and mucosal secretions.
  • Indications: management of nasal symptoms of seasonal and perennial allergic and non-allergic rhinitis.
  • Excellent for relief of pruritus, sneezing, congestion, rhinorrhea.

Warnings/Precautions/Adverse effects
  • Local dryness & irritation.May cause stinging irritation, nosebleeds, sore throat & burning. May cause taste dysfunction.
  • Local infections with Candida have rarely occurred.
  • The growth rate of some children may be slower using these products. It should be used for the shortest amount of time necessary to achieve symptom relief.
  • Adult supervision if used in patients under age 12

Patient counseling points: May feel better in 2 or 3 days, but peak response takes 2-3 weeks. This drug is not to be used “as needed”. It should be used for the entire allergy season.
  • Blow nose first
  • Remove cap
  • Prime bottle (if first use)
  • Shake bottle
  • Tilt head forward and exhale. (“It goes in your nose, look at your toes”)
  • Direct spray toward the ear on the same side. (Use the left hand to spray the right nostril, and the right hand for the left nostril)
  • Place pump into one nostril.Close other nostril with finger.
  • Administer spray in nostril while inhaling slowly and deeply.
  • Do not sneeze or blow the nose for 10-15 minutes after spray administered.

What's available?

Nasacort- Allergy 24 (triamcinolone)
hours first approved 1957. Approved for OTC use in Fall 2013. The liquid vehicle of OTC triamcinolone acetonide nasal spray is alcohol and taste free.
  • Adults and children 12 years of age and older: 2 sprays each nostril while sniffing- once daily.Once improved may decrease to one spray each nostril.
  • Kids 6-12: one spray each nostril. May increase only if needed.
  • Kids 2-6 one spray each nostril daily.Under age-2 don’t use.

Flonase (fluticasone) first available Rx in 1994. Approved for OTC use Summer 2014. First for relief of itchy watery eyes and nasal symptoms. The liquid vehicle of OTC fluticasone propionate contains phenylethyl alcohol.
  • Adults and children 12 years of age and older: 2 sprays each nostril while sniffing- once daily.Once improved may decrease to one spray each nostril.
  • Kids age 4-11: one spray each nostril. Do NOT use in children under age 4.

Flonase Sensimist (fluticasone furoate) will be available soon as an alcohol free and scent free mist.

January 2017

So if a patient needs a humidifer what should I recommend?

Most allergists feel that 30% room humidity is adequate. So, as we discussed last week, a humidity monitor should be purchased before any humidifier is purchased. I did buy one, and much to my surprise, even with all the cooking in our kitchen our winter humidity level is around 28%. Most allergists feel that setting pans of water on the radiators (and change them daily) will provide adequate moisture to a room without soaking carpets, ruining drapes, pictures, and encouraging dust mite growth.

"Cool Mist" These two types of humidifers generally appear to produce the greatest dispersions of both microorganisms and minerals.
  • Ultrasonic, which create a cool mist by means of ultrasonic sound vibrations.
  • Impeller, or "cool mist", which produces a cool mist by means of a high-speed rotating disk.

Two additional types of humidifiers can allow for growth of micro-organisms if they are equipped with a tank that holds standing water, but generally disperse less, if any, of these pollutants into the air. These are:
  • Evaporative: transmits moisture into the air invisibly by using a fan to blow air through a moistened absorbent material, such as a belt, wick, or filter.
  • Steam vaporizer: which create steam by heating water with an electrical heating element of electrodes. "Warm mist" humidifiers are a type of steam vaporizer humidifier in which the steam is cooled before exiting the machine.

Humidifier Care:
  • Change the water in the portable humidifers EVERY day
  • Every 3 days thoroughly scrub out the reservoir. Rinse with Hydrogen peroxide or dilute bleach solution to decrease bacteria and fungi growth (1 part bleach / 9 parts water)
  • Little kids can get "scalded" with the warm steam vaporizers if they get too close. Pharmacists should never recommend a "warm mist" vaporizer especially if there are children in the home. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the use of a cool mist humidifer. Vaporizers can cause burns if the child gets too close to the steam or accidentally knocks over a device filled with hot water.
  • There is no need to add anything to a warm steam vaporizer. Menthol, camphor (Vicks Vapo-Steam) or benzoin tincture makes the room smell better, but offers no advantage over the increased moisture.These essential oils will ruin a cool mist vaporizer.
  • Only recommend models with an automatic shut-off feature. Should the water reservoir run dry, the device should turn off automatically.
  • Recommend using distilled water in the humidifier. Tap water contains many minerals that can provide a breeding ground for microorganisms inside the humidifier.

"Pharmacists frequently recommend humidifiers for children who are congested or have rhinorrhea. As we discussed in last week’s newsletter excessive humidity may make their allergies worse, especially if they are allergic to dust mites and mold. In this situation, you want to keep humidity levels low. An air conditioner or dehumidifier can help to keep humidity levels low below 50% if possible which is usually needed in the summer.

Since 2001 The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that neither steam nor cool mist therapy be encouraged in the management of a cough or cold. "

DUST MITES They're everywhere!!!

“Hey doc, what humidifier do you recommend?” We pharmacists get that question a lot especially during this time of year. This column will address “do we even want to recommend a humidifier.”
  • Every homeowner should own a hygrometer that measures temperature and relative humidity. The ideal relative humidity for health and comfort is about 40-50%. A local allergist told me at a presentation, “before you recommend a humidifier, recommend a hygrometer first!”
  • In the winter months, it may have to be lower than 40% relative humidity to avoid condensation on the windows
  • If a parent wants a cool mist humidifier for a child who is congested or has rhinorrhea, keep in mind that it may make their allergies worse, especially if they are allergic to dust mites and mold.
  • Dust mites and mold like high humidity levels, so a humidifier will increase humidity and make allergies worse. Mites contain about 70% to 75% water by weight and must maintain this to reproduce. Their primary source of water for dust mites is ambient water vapor
  • For dust mite control, you want to keep humidity levels low. An air conditioner or dehumidifier can help to keep humidity levels low -below 50% if possible. (30% is adequate)

Meet your friendly dust mite: Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and D. farinae
  • Adult Mite Lifespan: Up to 3 months; (3 larval stages)
  • Female mites lay about 25 to 50 eggs
  • Mites live in carpet, fabric upholstery, and mattresses.
  • Human skin scale, animal dander and trace nutrients. Mites need to absorb humidity, since they cannot drink water.
  • Dust mite fecal material. Dust mites do not bite, and they are microscopic.
  • Temperature Range: approx. 59°F to 95°F
  • Relative Humidity Range: approx. 55% to 85%

Reducing exposure to dust mites:
  • Use bedding encasements that cover pillows and mattresses with zippered covers, which are impermeable to mites and mite allergens.
  • Wash sheets, pillowcases, and blankets in hot or warm water with detergent or dry in an electric dryer on the hot setting weekly.
  • Use washable, vinyl, or roll-type window covers.
  • Remove clutter, soft toys, and upholstered furniture.Limit stuffed animals to those that can be washed.
  • Where possible, carpets should be removed or replaced with area rugs that can be cleaned/washed.
  • Wash bed linens weekly
  • Avoid down fillings- encase comforters with fine mesh material
  • Reduce humidity level (between 30% and 50% relative humidity per EPR-3)

Excess humidity can also cause:
  • Damage walls, paint, wallpaper, insulation and ceilings
  • Mold growth on household surfaces, which can cause health issues in sensitive individuals
  • Condensation or fog forming on walls or glass surfaces, such as mirrors, pictures or windowpanes.
  • Dampness around the humidifier.
"When I was teaching about dust mite allergens to my class at St. Francis, the girls were "creeped out" when I told them about all of the dust mites that were inhabiting their pillow and mattress. According to Ohio State University , a typical used mattress may have 100,000 to 10 million dust mites inside. Ten percent of the weight of a two-year-old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings. Dust mites are microscopic "garbagemen" that digest all the skin cells that slough off. When you see the "dust" in a sunbeam coming though the window, about 80% is said to be dead skin cells.

Sleep tight tonight, with your newly discovered friends!"

Pseudoephedrine and Phenylephrine

Mechanism: Pseudoephedrine is an Alpha/Beta agonist that directly stimulates alpha-adrenergic receptors of the respiratory mucosa causing vasoconstriction and stimulates beta-adrenergic receptors causing bronchial relaxation. By constricting these swollen vessels in the nose and sinus region, tissue shrinks to allow the normal flow of air and mucus.

Contraindications: breast feeding, bronchitis, closed angle glaucoma, hypertension (uncontrolled), coronary artery disease, MAOI therapy, urinary retention (BPH), peptic ulcer disease. Pseudoephedrine is classified as Pregnancy Category: C

Illicit manufacturing of methamphetamine: Conversion of Pseudoephedrine (or ephedrine) involves hydrogenation of the hydroxyl group on the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine molecule.

Combat Meth Act of 2005
  • Any products containing oral pseudoephedrine, require a signature, and valid photo ID to purchase.
  • The law limits such purchases to 3.6 grams base in any one day and 9 grams base in any 30 day period. Mail order maximum per month is 7.5grams.
  • 3.6gm Pseudoephedrine HCl146 x 30mg tablets
  • 9.0gm= Pseudoephedrine HCl 366 x 30mg tablets

Nexafed® (pseudoephedrine HCl) Mechanism: significantly disrupts extraction and conversion of PSE to meth. Impede® technology’s inactive ingredients and unique polymer matrix form a thick gel that blocks the extraction. In the direct conversion (one-pot) method, Nexafed significantly disrupts the process, so that the meth yield is unsuitable. source:

Pseudoephredine with Hypertension
  • The effect in patients with controlled hypertension demonstrated an systolic blood pressure increase of similar magnitude (1.20 mm Hg). (probably OK if well controlled)
  • Higher doses and immediate-release preparations were associated with greater BP increases. Women showed less effect on BP or HR. Shorter duration of use was associated with greater increases in SBP and DBP. PSE exerts an indirect effect causing release of norepinephrine from storage sites which may contribute to its decongestant efficacy.
  • Increased heart rate around 3 beats per minute.
  • Arch Intern Med. 2005;165:1686-1694.

What about Phenylephrine?
  • Phenylephrine (PE): direct alpha-adrenergic
  • PE half life: 2.5hrs. PSE half life: 9-16hr
  • Bickerman study showed no more effective than placebo at 10mg dose
  • Source: Pharmacist Letter: 240205

"Any pharmacist working over the past 10 years remembers the legislation enacted on March 9, 2006, to regulate, among other things, retail over-the-counter sales of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, because of their use in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine were moved behind pharmacy counter (BTC); positive identification was needed to purchase these products. Shortly thereafter phenylephrine became abundant out front as the nasal decongestant that didn’t require such restrictions. It has been over 10 years, and not a week goes by where some “meth lab” isn’t discovered."

Lots of guaifenesin in the cough and cold aisle... is it worth recommending??

Guaifenesin- lets look at the evidence...
Expectorants work by increasing mucus hydration to a volume that is more easily expectorated by coughing. Guaifenesin (glyceryl guaiacolate) whose parent compound comes from the guaiac tree was first approved by the FDA in 1952. In 2002 the FDA approved only one extended release formula now made by Reckitt Benckiser to be marketed (Mucinex). Guaifenesin is also found frequently in cough syrups (Robitussin) and most often found in combination with dextromethorphan, antihistamines, decongestants and acetaminophen.

Mechanism: Guaifenesin stimulates the gastric nerve and promotes increased in airway secretions via the vagal nerve. Guaifenesin also has emetic properties, and can cause GI upset and vomiting, especially in high doses. Other proposed mechanisms of action may include a reduction in mucus viscosity or an enhancement of the mucocilliary clearance.

Guaifenesin for COPD: Excess mucus in COPD should focus on the treatment three major symptoms. First, underlying airways obstruction can be treated with both short and long acting beta agonists. Secondly, airway inflammation can be treated with inhaled corticosteroids or oral steroids if necessary. Cigarette smoking cessation is a must to decrease mucus production, as well as the occasional use of methylxanthines (Theophylline) or phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors (Daliresp). Guaifenesin seems to lack clinical efficacy.

The big picture: Guaifenesin has not been shown to work as an expectorant, as it does not increase the volume of sputum cleared, or as a mucolytic, as it does not alter thickness or stickiness of the sputum. I find that it does cause a fair amount of stomach upset and I usually just recommend adequate hydration.

Water: adequate hydration is important for all patients, especially COPD patients, but over hydration is of no benefit.
SSKI: (Saturated Solution of Potassium Iodide) may decrease the viscosity of mucus. Use limited due to side effects:
  • metallic taste
  • rash
  • hyperkalemia (especially if kidney dysfunction)
  • hypothyroidism if used more than six weeks

"When we journey through our cough aisle we see a lot of single entity and combinations of products containing guaifenesin. Guaifenesin is the only FDA approved expectorant, and the efficacy for this drug is sketchy at best. The FDA is pushing drug companies to do further studies on the OTC products, and I doubt whether this product will stand up if it is intensely researched. In my past thirty-five years, I’ve seen other expectorants fall by the wayside, such as potassium iodide, and iodinated glycerol (remember Organidin?)"

December 2016


BENZONATATE was first approved in 1958 as Tessalon® perles and is available in 100mg and 200mg capsules. Dosed three times daily for a maximum of 600mg per day
MECHANISM OF ACTION: acts peripherally by anesthetizing the stretch receptors located in the respiratory passages, lungs and pleura by dampening their activity. It begins to work within 15 to 20 minutes and its effect lasts for 3 to 8 hours. Has NO inhibitory effect on the respiratory center in recommended dosages.

SEVERE hypersensitivity reactions (bronchospasm, laryngospasm and cardiovascular collapse) have been reported when chewing the capsule instead of swallowing it whole! Choking can occur if capsule is bitten or chewed. I counsel my patients to swallow it whole with a cold glass of water. May cause sedation, headache, dizziness, constipation, nausea and GI upset.
The Medical Letter back in February 2010 reported that of ingestion in children under 10 years of age may be fatal. One or two capsules in a 2-year-old or younger has caused fatalities. May cause seizures, cardiac arrhythmias and death. Remind patients to keep out of reach of small children.


Codeine ( 3-methylmorphine) is the “gold standard” for treating cough; all other anti-tussives are measured against codeine for effectiveness. The dose is 10-20mg every 4-6 hours which is ½ of analgesic dose. Some physicians will prescribe 30 to 60mg per dose due to lack of efficacy of the lower dose. Codeine is available OTC in 28 states, however Pennsylvania is not one of them.

AVAILABLE AS: Guaifenesin/codeine; Promethazine/codeine; Promethazine VC/codeine each contains 10mg of codeine per teaspoonful. Clinicians should not prescribe more than 4-6 ounces at a time to prevent the potential of overdose. Pharmacists should offer to provide a measuring device and encourage patients to use it.

MECHANISM: centrally mediated suppression of cough threshold. Binds to opiate receptors in the cough center. Codeine is a prodrug that is converted to morphine by the hepatic enzyme CYP2D6. However, genetic variability causes some patients to metabolize it too slowly, and others to metabolize it too quickly. Some patients, particularly children and individuals with obstructive sleep apnea, are "ultrarapid metabolizers," who experience sometimes fatal respiratory depression after taking therapeutic doses of the medication, because they convert the codeine to morphine too rapidly.

Warnings: An FDA advisory committee recommended against the use of codeine for treatment of cough in children in December 2015. In September 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended against using codeine in children either for pain or as an antitussive. Is best not to prescribe codeine for any patient under age 18.
HYDROCODONE: Hydrocodone gets metabolized to an active metabolite hydromorphone (Dilaudid) by CYP2D6 as well. Ultra-rapid metabolizers would expect to see an increase effect and increase in toxicities with hydrocodone.
AVAILABLE AS Hydromet® (hydrocodone/homatropine 5/1.5 per 5ml)) and Tussionex® (hydrocodone/chlorpheniramine 10/8 per 5ml) Again, clinicians should be cautious when prescribing appropriate quantities. When prescribing Tussionex, keep in mind that the 4oz bottle has 24 doses (12-day supply) which most feel is an excessive duration.

Pharmacists should provide a measuring device, and encourage its use.

"We dispense a lot of cough suppressants this time of year, when the OTC preps are ineffective. We have two entirely different cough suppressants available by prescription only. Both are swallowed, but one works centrally and the other locally in the lungs. Remember that cough is only a symptom of an underlying problem, that can range from benign and self-resolving, to chronic or even life threatening, depending on the condition of the patient and comorbid illness. Effective treatment always addresses the underlying cause of the cough."

We know how often this time of year our patients head to the cough and cold section to pick up a preparation with dextromethorphan to control their cough. The history of dextromethorphan (DXM) shows that abuse has always been a problem.

HISTORY: The FDA approved DXM in 1958 and during the 1960s and 1970s, dextromethorphan became available in an over-the-counter tablet form by the brand name Romilar. In 1975, Romilar was taken off the shelves because of frequent misuse, and was replaced by cough syrup to cut down on abuse. Manufacturers began introducing refined DXM products (Robitussin-DM, Vicks-44, ) that were designed to limit recreational use by creating an unpleasant taste if consumed in large quantities. It wasn’t long we remember that the drug companies started marketing a higher concentration, and more pleasant tasting preparation (Delsym). Keep in mind when the recommended dose is taken, DXM has few adverse side effects, and has a long history of safety and effectiveness. Nine states (California, New York, Virginia, Arizona, Washington, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and New Jersey) now have legislation requiring a patient to be age 18 and show ID before purchasing DXM products.

  • Most common abused: Coricidin HBP (DM-30mg + Chlorpheneramine-4mg), often referred to as “CC” or “triple C” or “Skittles”.Robitussin products can be used, called “Robo-tripping” or “Robo-shakes”.May lead to elevated body temperature and death.
  • Symptoms following ingestion of high doses (five to ten times the normal therapeutic dose) include euphoria, an altered sense of time, paranoia, and disorientation. In addition, tactile, visual, and auditory hallucinations may occur.
  • The effects seen with dextromethorphan abuse are like those seen after phencyclidine (PCP) use, another agent which blocks NMDA receptors.DXM is sometimes referred to as “Poor man’s PCP”.

  • Increased perceptual awareness
  • Altered time perception
  • Feelings of “floating” or dissociation of the body
  • Visual disturbances
  • Tactile, auditory, visual hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Disorientation and lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired judgment and mental performance

Below is a chart I prepared to illustrate the doses needed to cause all the levels of DXM intoxication. As you can see, just one bottle of Delsym (89ml) can get an abuser to dissociative sedation. I am much more concerned about the Delsym and the Coricidin products, because as we all know excess guaifenesin causes nausea and most likely vomiting.

Plateau Dose (mg) Behavior effects Robitussin DM Delsym Coricidin HBP
1st 100-200 Mild stimulation 50-100ml 17-34ml 3-7 tabs
2nd 200-400 Euphoria hallucinations 100-200ml 34-68ml 7-14
3rd 300-600 Distorted visual perception. Loss of coordination 150-300ml 50-100ml 10-20
4th 500-1500 Dissociative sedation 250-750ml 83- 250ml 17-50

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