Medications and Poor Gum Health

Jun 23, 2017 @ 09:00 AM — by belldental

MedicationWhile medications are often necessary to keep the body healthy, the side effects of some medications may lead to poor gum health. With proper oral hygiene and good dental care, it may be possible to protect the gums from the side effects of certain medications. Drs. Brian Bell and Justin Crocker offer a variety of restorative dentistry treatments to address gum health issues for patients. If you are concerned about medications and poor gum health, contact our Lake Jackson, TX practice to find out how we can protect your smile.

How Do Certain Medications Affect Gum Health?

It's common for medications to have some side effects. This sometimes means the treatment of one issue can lead to another. In the case of certain medications, gum health issues may develop as a result of one common side effect: dry mouth.

Dry mouth is a condition in which saliva production is reduced. Dry mouth often leaves the mouth feeling uncomfortable, but more importantly can lead to poor gum health. This is because saliva plays an important role in oral health. Saliva helps wash away food debris and bacteria from the mouth. When dry mouth occurs, there isn't enough saliva to wash away food remnants and bacteria. As a result, bacteria will collect along the gum line, eventually leading to gum disease.

Which Medications Increase the Risk of Gum Health Issues?

Medications that list dry mouth as a side effect can increase the risk of gum health issues. Some of these medications include:

  • Antidepressants
  • High blood pressure medications, such as beta blockers
  • Antacids
  • Angina medications to prevent chest pain
  • Corticosteroids
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly called NSAIDs
  • Some birth control pills
  • Antihistamines
  • Anticonvulsant seizure medications

Protecting Gum Health When Medication Is Necessary

Although gum health is important, skipping medications to protect the gums is not recommended. Because of this, it is important for those who experience dry mouth and related gum health issues to speak to their dentist and primary care physician to come up with a treatment plan that protects gum health without eliminating necessary medications.

In some cases, this may mean being more proactive and aggressive with dental care. In other circumstances, medications may need to be altered by a doctor to find treatments that do not cause dry mouth. In either case, there are steps you can take to help protect gum health when medication is necessary, such as:

  • Brush and floss: Brushing and flossing is one of the most effective ways to protect the gums and teeth. When faced with dry mouth, it is best to brush and floss after every meal to reduce bacteria and plaque buildup within the mouth.
  • Rinse with water: Brushing and flossing after every meal isn't always feasible. In such circumstances, rinsing the mouth with water can help remove food remnants and bacteria to some extent.
  • Chew sugar-free gum: Chewing helps stimulate saliva production, so chewing sugar-free gum may help some people with dry mouth find relief.
  • See your dentist for regular exams and cleanings: Regular exams and professional cleanings are especially important for those who are taking medications that increase the risk of gum health issues. Regular exams can catch signs of damage or gum issues early, while professional cleanings help reduce plaque and tartar buildup.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are experiencing dry mouth, issues with gum health, or have any other dental concerns, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Bell or Dr. Crocker to learn more about your treatment options.

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