According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 70% of Americans are taking some sort of prescription medication, with antibiotics and antidepressants topping the list. You may be surprised to learn that these and many other medications — including antihistamines, vitamins, and even herbal preparations - can have an unwanted effect on the health of your mouth.
Prescription Medications and Dry Mouth
A number of medications (both prescribed and over-the-counter) indicate dry mouth as a potential side effect. Some of these are decongestants, high blood pressure medication, and antidepressants. Dry mouth is a nuisance, but it can actually create conditions in your mouth that lead to periodontal disease.
Saliva has a cleansing effect because it carries away food debris and kills bacteria in your mouth. Drying irritates the soft tissues in your mouth, causing inflammation making decay and infection more likely.
Practicing a diligent oral hygiene routine is essential, because the absence of sufficient amounts of saliva reduces your body’s natural ability to neutralize bacteria in your mouth.
If dry mouth is a problem for you, please let us know so that we can prescribe a special oral hygiene routine to limit the discomfort. Drinking water or sucking on a sugar-free lozenge can be helpful for stimulating the production of saliva to counteract dry mouth.
The Importance of Professional Dental Cleanings
Dry mouth can lead to periodontal disease, which can do a lot of damage before you’re even aware that it’s present. That is why dental cleanings are a crucial part of keeping your mouth healthy, especially when you’re taking prescription medications.
As part of a regular cleaning at our Wilmington dental office, our hygienist will carefully check your mouth and gums to monitor their condition and note any potential problems. This is the key to keeping your teeth and gums healthy and disease-free.
Knowledge is Power
It’s important to point out that we are not suggesting you stop taking the medication prescribed by your doctor. But helping you understand the effects they can have on your oral health will keep you informed and one step ahead of potential problems.
In general, you always need to inform us about the medications you’re taking so that we can adjust your treatment accordingly. For instance, over-the-counter drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen can reduce blood-clotting, so it’s important that we’re aware of this before performing any periodontal treatment or oral surgery.
Open communication is an important element of providing you with dental treatments that protect and preserve your oral health. You should never hesitate to talk to us about any medical concerns, even if you think they are not related to the condition of your mouth. As you can see, there really is a close connection to your oral health and your general well-being.