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  • Does your dentist know what’s in your medicine cabinet?

Does your dentist know what’s in your medicine cabinet?

If you use over-the-counter or prescription medications, it’s important to let your dentist know. You should also mention any side effects you’ve experienced as these can negatively affect oral health and even lead to more serious conditions. Luckily, early dentist detection can help reduce or alleviate many of these problems.

  • Dry mouth

    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.

  • Gingival enlargement

    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.

  • Limit your alcohol intake

    You may already know that excessive alcohol intake can have an effect on your overall health, but did you know that it may also affect your oral health? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, those who smoke, eat poorly and consume excessive alcohol also have increased gum recession (periodontal pocketing). Their studies show that smokers who regularly consume alcohol are less likely to brush their teeth on a regular basis and are less concerned about their basic health than nonsmokers.

  • Tooth decay

    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.

  • Other side effects

    There are many other medication side effects that can affect your oral health. Oral contraceptives and blood pressure control pills have been linked to oral sores and inflammation. Tetracycline, used for acne treatment, can discolor teeth and underlying bone. A number of over-the-counter remedies, from antibiotics to ibuprofen, can produce lesions or ulcers in the mouth.

  • Nervous system medications

    Drugs affecting the central nervous system can negatively impact oral health. Side effects like fatigue, lethargy and motor impairment may make brushing and flossing difficult. Adults taking antidepressants and high blood pressure medications can have elevated levels of plaque and the clinical signs of gingivitis.

Need help? Finding a dentist has never been easier. Look for a TRDP network dentist and save on your out-of-pocket costs.

Last updated February 2018

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