Whether you’re battling a headache, healing from a broken leg, or took certain antibiotics to prevent infection, you could be faced with a multitude of side effects, all negatively impacting your smile. Researchers have spent decades learning about the link between medication and oral health. From increased tooth discoloration as an adult to tooth decay to shifting teeth, these are just a few of the dental problems you could face because of prescriptions you previously or currently take. Read on to learn more about this connection and what you can do to save your smile.
What Medications Cause Oral Health Problems?
If you’re like most people, you may not read the potential side effects that come with taking certain medications. You likely rely on the pharmacist to tell you what to do to, what not to do, and any key problems you might experience while taking (i.e. vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, etc.). Very seldom is there mention of problems developing in your oral cavity.
Even if this information were to be divulged, you may not be persuaded to discontinue or reject the medication, especially if you have the mindset that “it won’t happen to me.” Unfortunately, it can, and by taking certain pills for too long, you could be facing years of necessary dental work.
The most common oral health problems that can develop as a result of certain medications include:
- Tooth discoloration in children whose mothers took tetracycline while pregnant or nursing to prevent an infection. (This often occurs when the child is nearing adulthood.)
- Dry mouth, as certain medications can make this condition significantly worse, ultimately increasing the risk for tooth decay, difficulties speaking and/or swallowing, and oral infections.
- Shifting of teeth
- Oral thrush
- Tooth decay because of excessive gum growth
It’s also important that if you take what is known as “maintenance medications,” you mention these to your dentist when arriving for an appointment. Why? Because even pills that address diabetes, pain, arthritis, depression, or water retention can pose a potential problem for your teeth and gums over time.
How to Keep Your Smile Looking Great
If continuing to take these medications that can prove problematic for your smile, make sure you are following these tips to keep your teeth and gums looking and feeling their best:
- Stay hydrated and keep your salivary glands working at an optimal level by drinking plenty of water. Drinking at least 8 glasses each day will help to quench your thirst and flush out any harmful bacteria. It will also help to balance out the medications you’re taking that can cause dry mouth.
- Talk to your dentist about special products (i.e. toothpaste, mouthwash) that can benefit your smile and prevent tooth decay, gum disease, or other serious dental problems caused by prescriptions.
- Divulge your list of current and previous medications to your dentist to ensure they are aware of what you’re taking and avoid providing anything that could cause you to have an adverse reaction or put you at risk for future oral health problems.
- Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about all the possible side effects of any medication you are preparing to take.
Knowing what you’re putting into your body is important. While it may be able to help you heal or avoid possible infection, it might also put you at risk for serious tooth and gum-related problems. If you are unsure about a particular medicine, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor and ask how or if it will negatively impact your smile.
About the Author
Dr. Gary Nawrocki understands that taking certain medications is necessary to overcome an ailment. But he and his team strive to help patients understand what potential side effects can develop as a result, especially as it pertains to their oral health. As a licensed dental professional, Dr. Nawrocki earned his Doctorate in Dentistry from the University of Florida in 1980. He has since completed advanced dental studies at the Pankey Institute, the Seattle Institute, and the Spear Educational Institute. He is pleased to offer his patients a breadth of services, each designed to repair, restore, and enhance smiles. If you need help to fix your teeth and gums because of the medications you currently take, contact us at (321) 783-7514.