Did you know that your medications and oral health are linked? Many medications, both those prescribed by the doctor and over the counter (OTC), can affect your oral health. It is essential that the dentist knows the medications you are taking so that they can offer the best dental care. Always provide a complete medical history and inform the dentist about changes in your health or the medications you take.

Dry Mouth: The Most Common Side Effect

One of the most common side effects of medications is dry mouth. Dry mouth increases the risk of cavities and other oral infections, including tooth decay. It can affect your oral health by decreasing the saliva your body produces. Saliva has properties that fight diseases, helps prevent food from accumulating around the teeth, and neutralizes the acids produced by the plaque. These acids can damage the hard surfaces of the teeth.

Some things that will help dry mouth:

  • Using an artificial saliva product.
  • Drinking water throughout the day.
  • Skipping or altogether cutting out alcohol, tobacco usage, and caffeinated drinks.
  • Sucking on sugarless candy or gum to encourage saliva production.
  • Avoiding spicy and salty foods that may cause pain.
  • Using a humidifier.

Medications and Oral Health: Other Side Effects

Your gums, the lining of your cheeks, and your tongue can also be affected by medications. For example, people with respiratory problems often use inhalers. Inhaling a medication through the mouth can cause a fungal infection called oral candidiasis. This infection, which is also called thrush, presents in the form of white spots in the mouth that can be painful.

Some other side effects of medications are:

  • A change in taste
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Mouth sores
  • Inflammation
  • Discoloration of the cheeks, tongue, or gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Cavities
  • Thrush

These are just some examples of how medications can affect your oral health.

If you’re wondering if you currently take any medication that may be affecting your oral health, here is a handy list of common medicines that may cause dry mouth or other symptoms:

  • Pain medications
  • Antacids
  • Decongestants
  • Sedatives
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines

Should You Be Worried?

The road to good oral health is understanding how medications can affect you, and keep your dentist informed of any drugs you are taking.

Older adults are typically prescribed more medications and thus are more susceptible to the ill effects on their oral health. Common diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, hematological diseases, liver disorders, or kidney failure require various medications that could cause unwanted oral health problems.

Frequent visits to the dentist can do more than keep your teeth healthy; they can tell the dentist a lot about your overall health. New research suggests that good oral hygiene is essential for good general health and high quality of life.

If you have questions about medications and oral health, call us today at 317-745-4400, and our highly-trained dental team will ensure you have the information you need for your best oral health.

Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.