Side Effects of the Medications You Take Everyday
The number of individuals taking prescription medications have significantly increased over the past decade. A study was conducted by researchers who stated that nearly 70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug regularly—and more than half of those take two prescription medications or more. 20% of all patients take five or more prescription medications, according to the article done by Mayo Clinic. (2) When taking medication you are always warned of the side effects.
While all medications have potential side effects, over 400 drugs (spanning nearly every class) list potential adverse oral side effects such as dry mouth,gingivitis and canker sores (3). Medications prescribed by your doctor and medications you buy on your own can affect your oral health. Below you will find some examples of how medications can affect your oral health. Make sure you disclose any medications you are taking with your dentist so they can provide the best treatment for you. If you have had a recent illness or suffer from a chronic condition, these are things you will want to share with your dentist as well.
Provide your dentist with your health history including both over-the-counter products, and prescription medications. Make sure to always let your dentist know if there are any changes in your medication use or your health.
Effects of Certain Medications
Some medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, may damage your teeth. Medications may cause problems in your gums such as bleeding, inflammation, or ulcerations.
Below – we have included some of the medications that can cause damage to your gums and teeth (1):
- May cause dry mouth and may increase your risk of tooth decay.
- May cause dry mouth, and an increased risk of gum problems.
- May lead to an increased risk of gum swelling and overgrowth.
- Since aspirin is acidic – chewing aspirin can directly damage the tooth enamel. Always take aspirin strictly as directed. The tablets should be swallowed whole with water, not placed beside a tooth or near the gums.
- Asthma medications
- Some asthma medications are highly acidic and can dissolve tooth enamel if used regularly over a long period of time
- Chemotherapy medications
- May cause a dry mouth and lead to an increased risk of gum problems and oral inflammation
- Immunosuppressive medications
- May lead to an increased risk of gum problems and mouth infections
- Oral contraceptives
- May lead to an increased risk of gum problems
- Medicated syrups
- Syrups that contain sugar can increase the risk of tooth decay if teeth are not brushed after these syrups are taken
- Bisphosphonates (for osteoporosis) and monoclonal antibodies such as denosumab (for bone problems)
- May cause severe problems in the jaw bones, such as non-healing painful ulcers antibiotics – large or prolonged dosages of antibiotics can cause oral thrush.
Dry mouth is one of the most common side effects of medication. When your mouth is dry, you do not have saliva to help keep food from collecting around your teeth and gums. Saliva also helps neutralize acids that are produced by plaque. The hard surfaces of your teeth are then more vulnerable to those acids because there isn’t enough saliva being generated to cleanse them off. You are at an increased risk of getting tooth decay is you have dry mouth.
Medications don’t just affect your teeth, they can affect your soft oral tissues including: tongue, cheeks, and gums.
Individuals with breathing problems often utilize inhalers. Inhaling medications can cause oral candidiasis, which is a fungal infection. This infection can be painful, appears as white spots inside your mouth, and is sometimes referred to as thrush. You may help prevent this infection by simply rinsing your mouth after using an inhaler.
Treatments for cancer may affect oral health. If it is possible, try to make an appointment to see your dentist before you start any treatment. The doctor can make sure that your mouth is in good health. When going over medical history with your dentist, it is important to disclose all the medications you are taking because it may affect your treatment. The dentist may suggest speaking with your physician directly in order to plan your treatment accordingly. It’s rare, but jaw problems can occur in people who were prescribed bone strengthening drugs for cancer treatment and osteoporosis.
Treatment for teeth and gum problems
Professional treatment may depend on the medication or drugs you take as well as how it affects your teeth and gums. Treatment may include (Department of Health & Human Services, 2014):
- If a certain medicine is causing a decline in your oral health, your dentist may suggest speaking with your doctor about adjusting the dose or method of consumption. In some instances, it may be possible to change to an alternative type of medicine that doesn’t risk your dental health.
- If changing your medication isn’t possible, speak with your dentist about professional and at home treatment that can help you protect your teeth.
- Fluoride helps strengthen your teeth and reduces your risk of decay. The dentist or your dental hygienist may apply topical fluoride to the surface of your teeth. Fluoride tablets or special fluoride mouthwashes may be recommended for use at home. In some instances, your dentist may prescribe you special mouthwash.
- Teeth that are already decayed will need to be restored, perhaps with a dental filling or a crown.
- Teeth that are decayed badly may need to be removed. This is when a dental bridge, implant, partial, or full denture may be recommended by your dentist.
- Gum tissues affected by gingival hyperplasia can be carefully trimmed by the dentist.
- Dentists can also recommend treatments (such as veneers) that may help improve the look of your mouth and smile.
1 Department of Health & Human Services. (2014, June 30). Teeth and medication. Retrieved January 04, 2021, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/Teeth-and-medication
2 “Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Take Prescription Drugs, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center Find.” Mayoclinic.org. Mayo Clinic, 19 June 2013. Web. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2013-rst/7543.html>.
3 WebMD (2020, August 11). Oral Side Effects of Medications: Metallic Taste, Bleeding, and Swelling. Retrieved January 04, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/oral-side-effects-of-medications