Modern medicine allows for the successful management of various different health problems with the help of prescription medications. While this is certainly a good thing, it is important to consider how these medications affect your body; specifically your mouth and overall oral health. Continue reading for more information about how prescription medications affects your mouth.
The Importance of Saliva in The Mouth
In order to understand exactly how medications affect the gums and teeth, it is important to first understand the importance of the presence of saliva in the mouth. Saliva has various health benefits; it protects the health of the teeth and gums by:
- Preventing food particles from remaining on the surface of the teeth
- Reducing the amount of bacteria present in the mouth
- Serving as a neutralizer for acids in the mouth
- Aids in re-mineralization, in which tooth enamel that has been damaged by acids in the mouth is repaired
Many prescription medications feature dry mouth as an unfortunate side effect; this places the individual at a risk of developing issues with their oral health, as they will not have the protection and benefits that come with the presence of saliva in the mouth. Dry mouth has several negative side-effects, including:
- Increased risk of gingivitis and periodontitis (gum disease)
- Increased amount of bacteria in the mouth
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Looseness in teeth
- Teeth loss
- Impaired tasting abilities
Medications That May Negatively Impact Oral Health
Below is a list of prescription medications that have been examined to have caused dry mouth and other oral health issues:
- Chemotherapy medications: Can lead to dry mouth.
- Asthma medications: Some asthma medications are acidic, and can cause damage to the enamel.
- Antihistamines: Block the release of saliva into the mouth, causing dry mouth.
- Antidepressant medications: Many antidepressants cause dry mouth.
- Syrups: Many medicated syrups contain a high sugar content, which pose a risk to the enamel of the teeth if not removed from the teeth’s surface.
- Opioids: Can cause dry mouth.
- Osteoporosis medications: Clinically known as biphosphonates, many osteoporosis medications have been known to cause problems in the jaw.
- Epilepsy medications: Can cause gingival hyperplasia, in which the gum tissue thickens and may eventually grow over the teeth.
- Blood pressure medication: Can cause dry mouth
How to Manage Your Oral Health While Taking Medications
While you obviously want to avoid the negative side effects that come along with certain prescription medications, it may be crucial for you to continue taking said medications in order to remain healthy. In the case that you are taking medications that pose a risk to your oral health, take the following preventative measures:
- Increase daily water intake: helps with keeping the body hydrated/saliva production
- Avoid smoking and other tobacco products
- Invest in a mouth rinse designed to combat dry mouth. There are strong, prescription-strength rinses that your dentist can prescribe to you if they see fit.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages
- Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet
- Attend your regularly-scheduled dental visits as needed
Moving forward with the information you learned here, you will be better equipped to manage your oral health while taking prescription medications. Of course, you will want to speak with both your primary physician as well as your dentist in order to determine how to best manage your own personal dental health.