If you use over-the-counter or prescription medications, let your dentist know. You should also mention any side effects you’ve experienced. These can negatively affect oral health and lead to more serious conditions. Luckily, early dentist detection can help reduce or alleviate many of these problems. Here are some common side effects, how they can affect your oral health and what you can do.
Dry mouth (also called xerostomia) is a side effect of many medications. Although discomfort may be minimal, decreased saliva can cause bacteria and plaque to accumulate in your mouth, making you more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay. Help combat dry mouth by drinking plenty of water (six to eight 8-ounce glasses per day), and talk to your dentist about alleviating symptoms.
Some medications — including the calcium channel blockers frequently prescribed to control high blood pressure — can cause gingival enlargement, a condition that causes gums to swell and begin to grow over the teeth. If left untreated, it can cause severe periodontal (gum) infection. Luckily, early detection and dentist monitoring can help reduce its negative effects.
From cough drops to antacid tablets, many medications in a dissolvable tablet or liquid form are sweetened to make them more palatable. The downside is that these sugars can leave sticky residue on teeth, making them more susceptible to decay. If you think your medication may be sweetened, be sure to brush your teeth after each dose.
Many other medications may have side effects that can affect your oral health:
Last updated September 21, 2021
The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.