Thanks to advances in preventative medicine, more Americans regularly take prescription medications than ever before. While the medications you take help to regulate and treat a variety of medical conditions, they can also cause serious damage to the health of your teeth.
Every drug, whether injected or taken orally, carries a risk of side effects, and hundreds of prescription medications can cause oral health problems to develop. Medications used to treat allergies, depression, chronic pain, high blood pressure, cancer, and even a cold can all contribute negatively to the state of your oral health. For this reason alone, you should inform Drs. Berger or Sheppard about any prescription medication you take regularly, including any supplements, vitamins, and over-the-counter products.
Some of the more common oral health problems related to medications include the following conditions below.
Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
While suffering from dry mouth might seem like a mild annoyance rather than a serious medical concern, saliva plays a vital role in protecting the health of your teeth and gums.
Plaque, a naturally occurring bacteria that grows in the mouth, produces substances that slowly damage the health of tooth enamel following most meals. Saliva acts as the body’s natural defense against these substances by washing them away from your teeth and gums. However, individuals who suffer from dry mouth don’t receive this protection, which makes them more susceptible to suffering from tooth decay and gum disease.
Over 400 different types of medication lists dry mouth as a known symptom, including antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics, pain medication, seizure medications, and lung inhalers. Talk with your dentist to determine if dry mouth is a symptom of any medication you take regularly, and what are the best practices for treating the condition.
Swelling of the Gums
Some types of medications cause gingival overgrowth, an excessive buildup of gum tissue. When swelling becomes severe, your gums can actually begin to grow over your teeth. Gingival overgrowth increases a person’s risk of developing periodontal disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in the U.S., and swollen gum tissue creates a favorable environment for bacteria to buildup, which can lead to damage occurring to the surround tooth structure.
A variety of medications can lead to overgrown gums and swelling, including the anti-seizure medication phenytoin; cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant; and several calcium channel blockers, blood pressure medications such as amlodipine, diltiazem, verapamil, and nifedipine.
Studies have found that mend carry a higher risk of suffering from this particular side effect than women when taking the drugs listed above. Fortunately, practicing quality oral hygiene and taking more frequent trips to the dental office can help reduce your risk.
Specific types of inhaler medications used to treat asthma can cause a yeast infection- oral candidiasis- to develop. By taking a few minutes to thoroughly rinse your mouth with water following each use of your inhaler, you can help to reduce your risk of developing a yeast infection.
An inflammation of the moist tissue that lines the interior of your mouth, mucositis is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Researchers believe that certain types of chemo drugs cause complex changes to occur in the cells of the mouth that make up the mucous membranes. The condition causes painful swelling of the tongue and mouth and can result in mouth ulcers, pain, and bleeding.
While the benefits of prescription drugs usually far outweigh the side effects, you should consults with your doctor and dentist if any drug, supplement, or vitamin you take causes oral side effects. Your doctor may be able to switch you to a different drug to help reduce or eliminate the side effects caused by what you’re currently taking.
If you have questions about medications and your oral health please contact your dentist in Sonora today!