HOW MEDICATIONS CAN AFFECT YOUR ORAL AND DENTAL HEALTH
Certain kinds of medications can have an adverse effect on your teeth.Long ago, children exposed to tetracycline developed tooth problems, including discoloration, later in life. The medication fell out of use, however, and is not an issue today.
The best precaution is to ask your family physician or family dental care if any medications he or she has prescribed can have a detrimental effect on your teeth or other oral structures.
A condition called a dry mouth is commonly associated with certain medications, including antihistamines, diuretics, decongestants, and painkillers. People with medical conditions, such as an eating disorder or diabetes, are often plagued by dry mouth. Other causes are related to aging (including rheumatoid arthritis) and compromised immune systems. Garlic and tobacco use are other known culprits.
Dry mouth occurs when saliva production drops. Saliva is one of your body’s natural defenses against plaque because it acts to rinse your mouth with cavity-causing bacteria and other harmful materials.
Some of the less alarming results of dry mouth include bad breath. But dry mouth can lead to more serious problems, including burning tongue syndrome, a painful condition caused by lack of moisture on the tongue.
If dry mouth isn’t readily apparent, you may experience other conditions that dry mouth can cause, including an overly sensitive tongue, chronic thirst or even difficulty in speaking.
Poor dental hygiene can cause a host of problems outside your mouth—including your heart.
Medical research has uncovered a definitive link between heart disease and certain kinds of oral infections such as periodontal disease. Some have even suggested that gum disease may be as dangerous as or more dangerous than other factors such as tobacco use.
A condition called chronic periodontitis, or persistent gum disease, has been linked to cardiovascular problems by medical researchers.
In short, infections and harmful bacteria in your mouth can spread through the bloodstream to your liver, which produces harmful proteins that can lead to systemic cardiac problems. That’s why it’s critical to practice good oral hygiene to keep infections at bay—this includes a daily regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing.
For more information, see, dental health: The preventive program
In some cases, patients with compromised immune systems or who fear an infection from a dental procedure may take antibiotics before visiting the dentist.
It is possible for bacteria from your mouth to enter your bloodstream during a dental procedure in which tissues are cut or bleeding occurs. A healthy immune system will normally fight such bacteria before they result in an infection.
However, certain cardiovascular conditions in patients with weakened hearts could be at risk for an infection or heart muscle inflammation (bacterial endocarditis) resulting from a dental procedure.
Patients with heart conditions (including weakened heart valves) are strongly advised to inform your dentist before undergoing any dental procedure. The proper antibiotic will prevent any unnecessary complications.
However, Cancer treatments also can affect oral health. If possible, see your dentist before beginning treatment. He or she can ensure that your mouth is healthy and, if necessary, can prescribe treatments to help you maintain good oral health. Your dentist also is interested in the medications you are taking because many can affect your dental treatments. Your dentist may want to speak with your physician when planning your treatment. Rare but serious jaw problems also can occur in people who’ve received bone-strengthening drugs to treat cancer and, to a lesser extent, osteoporosis.
These are only a few examples of how medications can affect your oral health. It is important that your dentist knows about the medications you are taking so that he or she can provide the best dental care for you. Tell your dentist about your medication use and your overall health, especially if you have had any recent illnesses or have any chronic conditions. Provide a health history including both prescription and over-the-counter products. Always let your dentist know when there are changes in your health or medication use.
Be sure to talk with your medical/dentist about how to properly secure and dispose of any unused, unwanted or expired medications, especially if there are any children in the household. Also, take the time to talk with your children about the dangers of using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes.