Is Your Medication Bad For Your Teeth?

If you’re using a prescription medication, you’re not alone – nearly half of all Americans have used prescribed medication in the past thirty days, whether it’s for a chronic condition, like anxiety or asthma or for a brief illness, like a sinus infection. When you look at the list of side effects on medication, you may see things like “headache,” “nausea,” or “dizziness,” but rarely do you see tooth decay or periodontitis. However, certain medications can actually increase your risk of dental problems, from discoloration to decay. To help you know what to look for, Dr. Hamby, our dentist in Fuquay Varina is sharing how certain types of medication can lead to damage and what you can do to prevent it.

Medications Causing Dry Mouth

You may have seen “dry mouth” listed as a side effect of a medication you’re taking. Also called xerostomia, this is a common side effect and while it may seem like nothing more than a nuisance, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Saliva is necessary to your dental health. It rinses away bacteria throughout the day to keep your teeth cleaner in between brushing. Additionally, dryness can irritate the soft tissues of the gums, leading to inflammation and increasing the risk of infection and abscess.

To combat dry mouth, drink plenty of water throughout the day, eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, and chew sugarless gum. If you still have concerns, your dentist can often prescribe a mouth rinse specially made for xerostomia. Common medications that cause this issue include:

  • Antacids and acid reflux medication
  • Opioids and pain medication
  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • Antidepressants
  • Blood pressure medication

Medications that Discolor Your Teeth

Certain medications can cause intrinsic stains on the teeth, and while they are harmless, they can cause the teeth to take on a gray or brownish tint. Intrinsic stains are stains that form on the inside of the tooth, and traditional teeth whitening agents may not remove the stains like they do for stains caused by coffee or tobacco use that are located on the outside of the enamel.

Common medications that can cause staining and discoloration include:

  • Antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline when given to young children
  • Antihistamines such as Benadryl
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Blood pressure medication

Medications that May Harm Your Gums

Certain medications can cause reactions with soft tissue, specifically the inside of the mouth and around the gums. This is not only painful, it can cause sores, discoloration, and inflammation. Inflammation along the gums can also put you at greater risk for gum disease and even infection.

Medications that cause sores include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Seizure medications
  • Blood pressure medication (though rarely)

Additionally, there are medications that can increase your risk of experiencing enlarged gums, called gingival overgrowth. While this is harmless by itself, greater care needs to be taken when brushing and flossing to remove all food particles and plaque from these tissues. Medications that cause gingival overgrowth include:

  • Heart medications
  • Seizure medications
  • Immunosuppressants

Schedule a Dental Checkup with Our Fuquay Varina Dental Office Today

If you’re concerned about how your medication is affecting your teeth, it’s important to speak with your doctor as well as make an appointment for a dental checkup. We can check for any concerns as well as provide you with personalized recommendations to keep your mouth clean and healthy. To schedule an appointment, call us at 919-552-2431 or fill out our form below to get started.

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