Before You Pop That Pill: How Certain Medications Impact Oral Health
When we think about oral health, we often think about regularly brushing and flossing, staying away from chocolates and candy, and routine dental checkups and cleanings. But did you know that maintaining good oral hygiene is just one factor that impacts oral health?
Recent research suggests that it’s important to pay attention to the medications we take as they may affect our oral health. Medicines are essential to getting back on our feet when we get sick. Vitamins, minerals, and even herbal supplements are designed to promote good health and strengthen the body’s immunity response. But what many people don’t realize is that certain components of medications can impact the teeth and gums, even causing oral health complications.
So, how do we get the health benefits of medications without suffering from dental issues down the line? Our dentists weigh in on the best way to select medication that’s safe for the teeth and gums, and manage side effects of some medications that simply can’t be avoided.
Give Your Dentist a Complete Medical History
The fastest and easiest way to avoid oral health complications from a certain medication is to tell your dentist about it right away. Checkups, cleaning, treatments, and encouraging good oral hygiene habits are only half of what your dentist does. A crucial part of their job is establishing and monitoring your dental history. That’s why it’s important to keep your dental records updated.
Let your dentist know right away if you’ve been prescribed new medicines or antibiotics, as well as if you’re adding new vitamins or supplements to your daily regimen, even if these are marketed as all-natural, herbal, or organic. Even natural ingredients can affect teeth and gums when not properly managed. This way, your dentist can advise how to manage your oral health while on these medications and recommend alternative medication if possible.
Common Side Effects of Medication
Most medications can cause one side effect or another. While not uncommon, it’s important to pay attention to them as they occur, so you can immediately get the help you need.
In some cases, a normal amount of bleeding can be expected and shouldn’t be a cause of worry. Medicines like aspirin and anticoagulants such as heparin or warfarin, are known to reduce blood clotting, which may cause some bleeding. These medicines are crucial to managing heart disease or reversing the effects of strokes.
However, if you undergo oral surgery or treatment for periodontal (gum) disease, these medicines can cause abnormal bleeding and possible complications during the procedure, affecting recovery. If your dentist recommends either of these treatments, it’s important to let them know beforehand that you have been prescribed aspirin or anticoagulants, so they can make the necessary adjustments.
Alter Taste Buds
Are you having a hard time eating and tasting food and drinks lately? Does everything taste bitter or metallic? If so, it’s worth checking the medications you’re taking, as some of them are known to have an effect on the taste buds. These medications include stimulants for the nervous system, cardiovascular meds, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, inhalants for respiratory problems, and smoking-cessation products like nicotine skin patches. It’s important to let both your doctor and dentist know, so they can prescribe treatment if necessary.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Some medications have been known to cause oral sores, inflammation, and even discolouration of soft tissues. These include prescriptions for blood pressure control, immunosuppressants, oral contraceptives, and chemotherapy drugs. If you are taking these medications and experience soft tissue injuries, it’s important to let both your doctor and dentist know, so they can alter your treatment as necessary.
We’re not talking about “gummy” smiles here. Gum tissue can enlarge or appear overgrown due to anti-seizure medications like phenytoin, immunosuppressants prescribed after organ transplant surgery, and calcium blockers prescribed for heart disease. This condition is known as gingival overgrowth and may require a change in medication. Dentists can treat the oral health component through gum treatment and cosmetic dentistry if required.
One of the most common side effects of antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and many other medications is dry mouth. While this normally resolves on its own, make sure to alert your dentist if the feeling persists, as well as if you are undergoing dental treatment to avoid further complications.
A Holistic Approach to Dental Care
Aside from maintaining good oral hygiene at home, it’s also important to keep your dentist informed about your medical history, so they can easily spot and manage the side effects of medications you’re taking that may be affecting your oral health.
At Dawson Dental, our dentists diligently keep up-to-date on your medical history in order to better support your oral health. This means asking you about both over-the-counter and prescription medication you’re taking, as well as monitoring possible side effects that occur in the mouth so these can be treated. Along with good oral hygiene habits at home, regular dental checkups and cleaning can keep your smile bright and healthy throughout your course of medication.
Dawson Dental offers a holistic approach to oral health, including working with you to manage existing conditions with medications that impact your teeth and gums. Call us at 1-877-308-8105 or contact us here to book an appointment.