How Medication Can Affect Your Oral Health And What You Can Do About It

Elderly man reading medication label

THE MEDICINE YOU TAKE to feel better can negatively affect your oral health. To help you better protect your smile from some of the medications’ harmful side effects, Dental Partners of Boston wants you to know the following information.

Medication Side Effects And Precautions You Should Take

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition characterized by a lack of sufficient saliva production in the mouth. Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health by lubricating the mouth, aiding in chewing and swallowing, neutralizing acids produced by plaque, and preventing tooth decay by washing away food particles and bacteria.

Side Effect: Some medications can cause dry mouth. With less saliva in your mouth to wash food debris from your teeth and neutralize the acid produced by plaque, you’re more likely to experience gum disease and tooth decay.

Potential Cause: Antihistamines, antidepressants, high blood pressure/heart medication, decongestants, inhalers, etc.

Precaution: Drink water regularly, chew sugarless gum, avoid alcohol, tobacco, and spicy foods, and ask your doctor about an artificial saliva product.

Swelling of The Gums

Swelling of the gums has several causes so it’s important to know if it is the medication or some other factor like gingivitis, dental abscess, or allergies. If swelling of the gums is caused by the medication you are taking, here are some things to be aware of.

Side Effect: Swollen gums create pockets that trap bacteria and food particles between the teeth and gums. This can develop into infections that damage your gums and tooth structure.

Potential Cause: Anti-seizure medication, Immunosuppressants (taken with organ transplants), blood pressure medication (calcium channel blockers), etc.

Precaution: Careful daily brushing and flossing, rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water after every meal, and more frequent dental visits (every 3 months), ask us for additional care tips.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can be a concern if you’re not careful with some medication and supplements.

Side Effect: Some medications are acidic or have added sugar. When taken frequently or in high doses, these medications can erode tooth enamel, making the teeth more vulnerable to decay.

Potential Cause: Cough drops, syrups, and antacids have added sugar. Aspirin and vitamin C supplements (ascorbic acid) are acidic by nature. Medications that cause dry mouth can contribute to tooth decay.

Precaution: Do your best to take the medication during or around the time you eat, brush after consumption, and take tablets instead of syrups.

Read The Label, Ask Your Doctor

Before you take any medication, make sure to read over medication labels and pay close attention to side effects. Consult with appropriate health professionals. Let your oral health team at Dental Partners of Boston know what medications you’re taking before receiving treatment so we can provide you with the best care possible.

Thanks for trusting us with your oral health.

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