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Put Your Medicine Where Your Mouth Is…Then What?

Here’s an interesting statistic from the Mayo Clinic. An estimated 70% of Americans take at least one medication regularly, whether over-the-counter or by prescription. Dr. Colin Lathrop, a family dentist in Katy, TX, explains that sometimes even the things we require to keep ourselves healthy can also affect our oral health. Not that we advocate starting or discontinuing medication without first consulting your doctor, but it’s important to understand how they affect the health of your teeth and gums.

Side Effects of Prescription Medication

All medications have the potential to cause side effects, but some are notorious for targeting the mouth. These include:

  • Asthma inhalers can cause thrush, a condition identifiable by white, itchy patches in the mouth. Rinsing your mouth with plain water after each inhalation reduces this risk.
  • Hormone-containing medications, such as Premarin, Estrace, and oral contraceptives, cause xerostomia, or dry mouth. Dry mouth is especially problematic because it makes your mouth more hospitable to bacteria and increasing your risk of developing gum disease.
  • Gingivitis is listed as a possible side effect across several classes of medication, including calcium channel blockers, anti-seizure drugs, and drugs prescribed after organ transplants.

Over-the-Counter Medications Affect Oral Health, Too

As with prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications affect your teeth and gums. The most commonly reported oral health side effects associated with OTC medicine include:

  • Liquid medications, including cough syrup and antihistamines, often contain large amounts of sugar to mask an unpleasant taste. When taken for long periods of time, these medications increase the risk of tooth decay. Rinsing your mouth with water after each dose helps.
  • If you need cough drops, vitamin C drops, or throat lozenges, choose products that contain xylitol, an alternative to sugar. Allowing a lozenge to remain in your mouth bathes your teeth in sugar, much like hard candy. Xylitol improves flavor and offers some protection from cavities.
  • Chewable antacids have a sticky, chalky texture that clings between teeth and hides between your teeth and gums. These, too, contain sugar. When used for long periods of time, the calcium in antacids can actually inhibit absorption of calcium and protein, both of which are vital to the health and density of your teeth and jaw.

Healthy mouth, healthy body. To learn more about oral-systemic health and hygiene, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Colin Lathrop, contact our Katy, TX dentist office at 832-437-3849. We welcome patients living in and around Weston Lakes, Fulshear, Richmond, Brookshire, Simonton, and the surrounding communities. For the latest news and oral health insights from our practice, follow us on Facebook!