How Medications Can Affect Your Oral Health


Did you know that certain medications can cause you to have oral health problems? The American Dental Association reports that dry mouth is one of the most common side effects of medications. This can increase your chances for tooth decay, as saliva is what helps keep food from collecting in your teeth. Saliva can also help neutralize acids you come in contact with in the foods and drinks you ingest. Many medications are also inhaled through the mouth (such as inhalers), which can cause fungal infections. Always speak with your doctor so you know what to expect from your medications. In the meantime, we can help you to know what side effects happen the most often and what you can do about them!


Be Conscious about Your Oral Health!

Many people think about foods and drinks and how they can damage their teeth. However, medications could actually be the ones damaging their oral health. Many medicines have side effects that can cause symptoms to manifest all over your body. Your mouth and teeth are also affected with many medications. That includes both medications you buy over-the-counter and medications prescribed by your doctor.


Cancer treatments commonly affect patient’s oral health. A doctor can prescribe you treatments and give you tips for keeping your teeth and mouth strong if you are receiving cancer treatment. Some jaw problems also happen to people who receive drugs for bone-strengthening and for problems such as osteoporosis. Always give your medical professional your medical history so they can prescribe you the best medications for your health.


Dry Mouth and Your Saliva

Dry mouth is one of the most common side effects of medications. Many people may not even realize that their dry mouth is uncommon or is a side effect of something they ingested. Some simply think that they are thirsty. However, you can fill up on liquids and still have your mouth feel incredibly dry. That’s not a good thing. Saliva helps break down the foods you eat and is the start of your digestive system. Saliva also helps to neutralize acids in your mouth to keep your teeth healthy. When dry mouth happens, your risk for tooth decay skyrockets as the bacteria in your mouth increases.


Opioids and other pain medications commonly cause dry mouth. Antihistamines and decongestants block histamine receptors to prevent allergic reactions. However, these also block the release of saliva. Blood pressure medicines cause gum swelling and growth and antidepressants can negatively affect your bones and teeth. Some medications can also cause oral funguses. Inhalers are common culprits of this. The only way to be sure about how your teeth will be affected by certain medications is to talk to your doctor and do your research.


Foods Can Also Damage Your Teeth

What you eat and drink says a lot about your oral health. The more sugar you ingest, the more likely you are to have too decay, especially if that sugar is in the drinks you ingest all day long. Sugar is incredibly damaging to teeth because it’s what plaque needs to exist. Plaque is that sticky substance that erodes away your tooth enamel and the substance you brush away with brushing and flossing. You want to avoid foods high in sugar, or eat them sparingly. Brush your teeth after eating sugary foods so that plaque doesn’t have anything to grow from. Also, avoid foods such as:

  • Citrus Fruits and Drinks – The citric acid in these erode away your tooth enamel very quickly. Any type of acid is not good for your teeth.
  • Carbonated Beverages – Carbonation has a nice bite to it, but that is because CO2 is turning into carbonic acid in your mouth. Even sparkling water has this, so if you want to save your tooth enamel, avoid sodas and carbonated waters.
  • Hard Candies/Hard Mints – Both of these contain sugars and are actually mostly made of sugar. Never chew on hard candies or mints, as this habit can break a tooth.
  • Coffee and Tea – These two are major culprits for staining the teeth. Red and white wine can also stain the teeth. The caffeine some of these drinks contain can also be addictive.
  • Sports Drinks – Again, these are full of sugar, which is the main food for plaque.


Take Care of Your Oral Health

It’s quite easy to take care of your oral health and strengthen your teeth. One of the best steps to take is to follow preventative dentistry. Establish oral health habits that will keep your teeth strong instead of weaken then. You can strengthen your teeth through everyday habits of brushing and flossing your teeth. There is a reason that these two habits are so central to good oral health: they work to prevent tooth decay! As we mentioned, your saliva is very important for keeping your teeth healthy. However, plaque is made right in your saliva from sugars in the foods you eat mixed with bacteria in your mouth.


This plaque is that acidic substance that sits on your teeth and erodes your tooth enamel. Hence, your saliva can be both good and bad depending on the oral health habits you have. We recommend brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day and coming into the office at least twice a year for cleanings and exams. These services can make sure your teeth stay healthy and strong. If you want to learn more about specific medications you are taking and the health of your teeth, call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-8425!