Medications and your oral health

Sometimes you might wonder why your dental office asks so many questions about your health and medications. You may think your teeth are totally separate from any other health problems, but there is actually quite a bit of overlap! One of the most common problems we see from your everyday over-the-counter and prescription medications is dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. So why is dry mouth a problem?

Saliva is a protective agent your body makes that helps to keep your teeth healthy, fight sugar and acid, and flush debris from the teeth. Saliva is incredibly important when it comes to preventing cavities, so if you reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth, you may see an increase in tooth decay. The list of medications that cause dry mouth is extremely extensive but below are some of the most common culprits

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines (commonly used for allergies)
  • Antihypertensives (medications for high blood pressure)
  • Antidiarrheal/gastric medications- Medications to treat GERD and ulcers like proton-pump inhibitors
  • Pain medications
  • Diuretics

This list is by no means complete and not all drugs from each category cause dry mouth, but it’s important to be aware that many do. The effect can also be much worse depending on the number of medications you are on. If you notice that you have started experiencing dry mouth, especially if there has been a recent change in your medications, be sure to let your dentist know. There are many tips and tricks we can help you with in order to try to minimize your dry mouth and its effect on your teeth!

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