Every so often, we receive a patient who is surprised to learn that they have developed a cavity, because they typically take very good care of their teeth, and have little or no history of cavities. If this has happened to you, there is one other factor that can contribute to poor oral health: medications. Both prescription and non-prescription drugs can either directly harm your teeth, or cause side-effects which do. Learn more below from our Statesville dentist!
Your saliva is very important to maintaining your oral health. It has a pH that is naturally acidic enough to control tooth bacteria, while not causing harm to your teeth. Saliva is so important that medications which inhibit its production can actually harm your oral health. With less saliva to keep bacteria levels down, you may find yourself experiencing bad breath and even tooth decay.
Though the acid produced from heartburn and acid reflux can contribute to tooth erosion, the antacids used to treat them can be bad for your teeth, too. Research has shown that antacids in chewable, dissolvable, and liquid form can all weaken your teeth and contribute to tooth decay. Some antacids, like the popular TUMS® Chewy Bites, also contain a high amount of sugar or other tooth-damaging artificial sweeteners.
Patients with chronic pain are especially prone to periodontal disease and lost teeth, due to side effects of prescription pain medications. Regular use of opioids can dry out oral tissues and decrease saliva production, increasing the presence of harmful bacteria, as stated above. Opioid medication can also cause decreased blood flow to oral tissues, which can cause them to weaken and develop mouth sores, bruxism, and ulcers. Finally, those who use opioids regularly tend to have increased amounts of acid reflux, which can damage tooth enamel and gum tissues.
Antihistamines help prevent allergic reactions by blocking histamine receptors throughout your body. Unfortunately, they also block the release of saliva, resulting in dry mouth and, therefore, tooth decay. The same applies to decongestants, which treat stuffy or drippy noses associated with head colds. And, on the subject of colds, cough syrups are typically highly acidic, which can lead to tooth decay and discoloration.
Beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, heart rhythmic medications and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are all commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure. These medications all share the side effect of dry mouth, increasing your chances of developing tooth decay.
If you suffer from a chronic condition, abandoning your medicine is obviously not an option. Instead, you will have to be extra-diligent about your oral health, being extremely careful to brush and floss after every meal. You should also drink at least eight to ten glasses of water a day, and make sure to go to regular dental checkups and cleanings! To schedule an appointment with our Statesville dentist, please click here.