Are You at Risk for Oral Health Problems?

Oral Health Risks

The best way to retain your smile and good oral health is through preventative care steps that may reduce your oral health risks. Did you know that there are certain risk factors that can leave you more susceptible to decay, infection, cancers or other oral health problems?  Your current medications or substance use can increase your oral health risks substantially.  Learn the necessary steps to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy. Our Family and Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies team is here to help.


Diseases that Put You at Risk for Oral Health Problems

Your oral health is connected to your total body health and certain diseases impact the health of your mouth in surprising ways. Sometimes it’s the illness that affects mouth health, and sometimes it’s a treatment. If you suffer from any of these diseases, you could be at risk for oral health problems:

Let a member of our Family and Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies team know what diseases or conditions are currently affecting you so we can work with you to safeguard your teeth and help eliminate your oral health risks.


Medications that Have Oral Health Risks

According to the American Dental Association, many medications including vitamins and minerals and some herbal supplements carry oral health risks.  As a matter of fact, it is estimated that 40 percent of the population take a least one type of medicine that could damage their teeth. It is important that you let our office know what current medications you are taking and your most recent medical history.  Here are some specific medicines to watch out for and some of their side effects:

  • Antihistamines– can cause dry mouth, and an increased risk of gum problems.
  • Antihypertensives – can lead to an increased risk of gum problems.
  • Aspirin – chewing aspirin can directly damage the tooth enamel, as aspirin is acidic. Asprin tablets should be swallowed whole with water, not placed beside a tooth.
  • Asthma medications – some asthma drugs are highly acidic and can dissolve tooth enamel if used regularly over a long period of time.
  • Chemotherapy drugs – can cause dry mouth and lead to an increased risk of gum problems.
  • Immunosuppressive drugs – can lead to an increased risk of gum problems.
  • Oral contraceptives – can lead to an increased risk of gum problems.
  • Syrups – medicated syrups that contain sugar increase the risk of tooth decay if teeth are not brushed after these syrups are taken.

As mentioned above, liquid medications are often packed with sugar that can increase tooth decay and that leave a sticky, sweet residue on your teeth and gums. Patients using liquid medications are more susceptible to oral health risks and problems.  Look for sugar-free alternatives if available.  It is important to rinse your mouth out with water after taking these medications.

If you are unsure if a new medication you are taking could adversely affect your oral health, give our Family and Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies team a call so we can help.


Conditions that Have Oral Health Risks

Certain health conditions will require that you and Drs. Willey and Murri work closely together to ensure that you mouth stays healthy and protected from oral health risks.  Allergies, high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes can all have an effect on oral health because of the accompanying medications used to treat these conditions.  Antihistamines, diuretics, and antidepressants can all affect your saliva production causing dry mouth. Narcotic pain medications also cause dry mouth and the oral health concerns that come with that.  


Substances that Increase Oral Health Risks

Certain recreational substances–illegal and legal–can wreak havoc on your mouth and teeth and carry high oral health risks.  Alcohol used regularly leads to dry mouth and tooth damage due to the acidic nature of alcohol. Tobacco and cigarette use increases your risk for different cancers, including oral cancers and has detrimental effects on your gum tissues.

Illegal drugs carry extremely high oral health risks. Consider the following dangers of these illegal drugs before you choose to use them and let your dentist know if you are currently using any of them:

  • Cannabis –also referred to as marijuana, pot and weed causes dry mouth and increased risk of gum problems. The smoke can cause oral cancer.
  • Cocaine – also nicknamed coke, blow or nose candy.  A popular application of this drug is to rub it over gum tissues.  This action triggers ulceration of the gums and the underlying bone. Cocaine when it mixes with your saliva creates an extremely acidic, eroding solution that destroys tooth enamel and exposes the dentin inviting bacteria to destroy the tooth. Cocaine and crack cocaine also cause dry mouth, which further increases the risk of tooth decay.
  • Ecstasy – also called love drug, E and eckies. Side effects of the drug include tooth grinding, jaw clenching and dry mouth
  • Heroin – also called H or smack. Users tend to crave sweet foods increasing the risk of tooth decay when oral hygiene is neglected. This drug also causes dry mouth and tooth grinding.  
  • Methamphetamine – also called speed, ice or meth. This drug creates tremendous tooth decay due to its high acidity in a very short period of time. Dental professionals have coined the term ‘meth mouth’ to encapsulate the extensive damage caused by this drug. Other side effects include dry mouth, bruxism and jaw clenching.

If you have a drug dependence problem, consider talking to your doctor about entering a drug treatment program.


What Can You Do to Reduce Oral Health Risks?

Here at Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies, it is our philosophy that prevention is often the best medicine. Healthy teeth and gums depend on good oral hygiene, a low-sugar diet, healthy saliva production and regular visits to the dentist. It is important that you tell your dentist about any drugs or medications you are taking, including illegal drugs.  By practicing proper dental habits every day, you can help prevent serious dental and medical problems in the future. To best maintain the health and beauty of your smile, we recommend the following best practices:

  • Brush Regularly
  • Floss Daily
  • Rinse with Mouthwash
  • Have an In-Office Cleaning/Exam at Least Twice a Year
  • Avoid Tobacco Products
  • Cut Down on Sugar

If a medicine is causing you dental health problems, your dentist may suggest that you talk to your doctor about adjusting the dose or method of delivery. In some cases, it may be possible to switch to another type of medicine that does not risk your dental health. Don’t stop taking any prescribed medicine without your doctor’s advice, even if the medicine can potentially harm your teeth.


Call for a Consultation

It is recommended that you get dental checkups and cleanings at least twice a year.

If you’d like to know more about what you can do to preserve your smile, or if you’d like to make an appointment, call our Fort Collins office today at (970) 223-8425. You can also reach us after office hours by submitting a contact or appointment request online using the form below.