Many of us will require medication at some point in our lives - whether it’s a short-term prescription for a painkiller to help treat backache or a longer-term script for drugs to treat heart conditions. Treatments that come to the market are always well-tested and safe for human consumption. That doesn’t mean they come without issues or side effects, and it’s good to be aware of them, whatever medication you take.
We might think about common side effects perhaps relating to headaches or nausea - short-term and easy to deal with. However, one area we don’t often consider is how medications affect our teeth and oral health. Here, we’ll examine the dental side effects of the drugs you take.
Steroids are prescribed for several medical conditions. They’re effective pain relievers and have fantastic anti-inflammatory benefits when they’re taken responsibly.
For many years bodybuilders have used them as safe and effective ways to help gain muscle mass and build core strength, and have relied on buying steroids in Canada and other countries to help them achieve their fitness goals and aims. When they’re ingested as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes the right protein-rich foods and exercise, they offer great results.
Steroids prescribed and taken in safe doses have excellent health outcomes, but there are some dental side effects to be aware of.
Longer-term use can lead to issues with gum disease and loss of bone in the areas that surround your teeth. Make sure to keep teeth and gums clean and get regular dental checkups if steroids are a regular part of any medication or bodybuilding plan.
SSRI and other antidepressant medications
Safe, effective, and non addictive, SSRI medications are a lifeline for many people who have mental health issues. Alongside talking therapies, they’re a superb treatment.
Normal side effects when taking these treatments for the first time might include a headache, nausea or dizziness which pass when the body adjusts.
In terms of dental health, the most well-known side effect is a dry mouth. In itself, this isn’t too concerning - drinking plenty of fresh water and occasional use of sugar-free sweets can help to tackle the worst feelings. However, if a dry mouth is left unchecked in the long run it can lead to an increase in the chances of developing tooth decay - so worth checking in with a dentist if symptoms persist. They’ll be able to advise on specialist products to use, too.
Whilst many medical practitioners like to limit the use of antibiotic treatments these days, there are situations in which they can’t be avoided and they’re a lifesaver in certain situations.
Some simple health conditions like UTIs might require them for short-term use and they can be approved in low doses and used without any side effects occuring.
However, one of the more common effects they have on dental health is that they can cause oral thrush to flare up.
This is a relatively common condition that looks and feels a bit uncomfortable but can be treated easily if caught early and treated by a qualified medical practitioner. Whilst taking any medication for oral thrush it’s wise to stay hydrated and once treatment is complete, to dispose of any toothbrushes and mouthwashes that have been used and to start fresh products to ensure no chance of reinfection.
Drugs that are taken for conditions such as high blood pressure can have amazing effects on cardiovascular health - but can sometimes have a detrimental effect on oral health.
Even mild, low-dose drugs to help with blood thinning such as Aspirin are mildly acidic and can damage tooth enamel when not taken correctly. A Doctor will advise on whether it’s best to take soluble or non-soluble forms of this drug in any patient being treated for heart health concerns.
Antihypertensive medications can sometimes lead to swelling of the gums when they’re taken long-term. The best way to deal with this is to ensure teeth and gums are brushed twice a day, floss where possible, and use mouthwash for hard-to-reach places. Dentists can advise on the best types of products to use and how to deal with any particularly difficult issues that arise from swollen gums.
It’s important to remember that medications for health conditions are always prescribed with the patient's best interests at heart and taking them regularly and as advised is the best course of action. Any concerns regarding dental health whilst taking prescription medication should be flagged with both the patient’s Doctor and the Dentist to ensure the best possible health outcomes.