Are Medications Making Your Mouth Sick?
What medications did you take this morning? Did you know they might be creating problems in your mouth? Your medicine cabinet may hold the answer to some of your oral health problems. Drugs that improve the health of one part of your body may have a detrimental affect on your mouth. Being aware and informed may prevent needless discomfort and expense down the road.
For example, over 400 medications produce a condition called xerostomia, or dry mouth that can be damaging to gum tissues. Other drugs may cause Gingival enlargement, which means the gums become swollen and begin to grow over the teeth. Swollen gums can be painful, unsightly, and interfere with speech, eating and everyday brushing and flossing.
Medications with sugar as the main ingredient, like cough syrups and cough drops, may increase plaque as well as the tendency for plaque to adhere to your teeth. Parents may notice that children’s medications and chewable medications in are made more palatable by the additions of more sugar. This sugar may be listed the ingredients as sucrose, glucose or fructose. These sugars may significantly increase plaque production and increase the risk of cavities as well as periodontal disease. When shopping for lozenges, chewable tablets and syrups look for those that are sugar-free. Never put children to bed after having administered these medications without having them at least rinse their mouth with water. The same precaution is true for adults.
Drugs that induce dry mouth include those for high blood pressure, spastic bladder syndrome, pain relief, anti anxiety and allergy medications. People with dry mouth have a tendency to accumulate more plaque and experience changes in their gum tissue that can make them more susceptible to periodontal disease and tooth decay. Drugs that may cause gingival enlargement and overgrowth include calcium channel blockers, medication used for seizure control and anti organ rejection drugs. Over grown gums make it easier for bacteria to accumulate and attack supporting structures of the teeth, which can lead to severe periodontal problems.
When taking these medications diligent home care and frequent visits to the dentist are very important because gingivitis may act as a predisposing factor to gingival over growth. A recent study in the Journal of Periodontology suggests that frequent dental visits following initial periodontal treatment may significantly reduce gingival overgrowth in patients taking blood pressure medication. The study found that gingival overgrowth recurrence was eliminated in more than half of the patients with a combination of initial periodontal therapy followed by more frequent dental visits (every three months).
Just as you should inform your physician of the medications you are presently taking, be just as careful to inform your dental professional. Make sure to include over the counter and herbal supplements as well. Your dental professional can talk to you about what effects these products may be having on your oral health. He may consult with your physician about possible alternatives and answer questions or concerns you may have. With this information, you, your physician and your dental professional can all work together to minimize the negative effects of any medications you may be taking and prevent discomfort and unnecessary treatment in the future.
Side Effects of Medications
Xerostomia or dry mouth
There are over 400 medications that produce a condition called xerostomia, or dry mouth that can be damaging to gum tissues.
Other drugs may cause gingival enlargement, causing the gums to become swollen and grow over the teeth.
Your Medicines Could Be Causing Oral Health Problems
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