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Common Medications and Your Oral Health

Tooth; Flickr Creative Commons P.S. Sahana

Flickr Creative Commons, P. S. Sahana

Prescription drugs have increased both our quality of life and longevity – so much so, over 70% of Americans take at least one daily prescription. Doctors and pharmacists counsel patients on potential side effects, but often the most mundane-sounding issues can cause long-term problems.

Consider dry mouth – it’s not life-threatening, and in fact, rarely becomes a noticeable problem. But lower saliva production can lead to cavities that develop more quickly and deeper into the root; this is because saliva is essential to continually rinse the teeth and wash away residue from food and drink. Over 400 prescriptions can cause dry mouth, including hypertension treatment drugs, antidepressants, antihistamines, asthma medications, antibiotics, and diuretics.

Another overlooked side effect comes from antihypertensives (drugs to treat high blood pressure), which can cause swelling and overgrowth of the gums. Gums are a crucial part of a healthy mouth and teeth, but swelling and overgrowth can lead to gum disease, bleeding, and pain.

It may seem unnecessary to share your use of prescription drugs with your dentist, especially when they’re for sensitive health issues like incontinence, mental health, or sexually transmitted infections. Even sharing short-term medication use, such as hormone, antibiotics, and allergy medications, may seem excessive. But your dentist can only give you the best care and recommendations if they know what is affecting your oral health. At your next scheduled checkup, talk with your doctor about the medications you take (including painkillers and other over the counter drugs) so you can make sure your mouth gets the treatment it deserves – that is to say, the best!

 

Further reading:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus14.pdf#086

http://wsdha.com/clientuploads/pdfs/Public%20Info/Seniors/DryMouthMedications.pdf

http://www.insidehalton.com/shopping-story/5763937-common-medications-and-your-oral-health/

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