By: Stacey Colino
You’re probably well aware of side effects like stomach upset that many medicines can cause. But how your meds affect your mouth is also important -- mouth health impacts overall body health.
Yet most people don’t realize this, says Dr. Gigi Meinecke, a dentist in Potomac, Md., and a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. What’s more, “patients are very selective about what they tell dentists about the medications they’re taking because they consider it a private matter,” adds Dr. Meinecke. “But we can better care for you if we know what you’re taking.”
Below, we rounded up the five most common oral side effects of medications, along with advice on what to do if you have them. Talk to your dentist and remember to bring a complete list of all the prescription medications, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and supplements you’re taking to your next dental checkup.
Side Effect: Dry mouth
Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but having an overly dry mouth can also make you more susceptible to gum infection, cavities and tooth decay.
Side Effect: Tooth discoloration
Sometimes the discoloration is superficial; other times, it’s inside the tooth (if it occurred when you were very young, for example).
Side Effect: Gum overgrowth
Fortunately, this is a rare phenomenon, but gum overgrowth is not only unsightly, it can also lead to lots of plaque buildup that can cause cavities and other problems. According to Meinecke, people with poor oral hygiene are more likely to experience gum overgrowth in response to medications.
Side Effect: Tooth grinding or jaw clenching (aka bruxism)
Tooth grinding or clenching can lead to jaw pain and harm tooth enamel. “If people are just doing it at night, they may not be aware of it,” says Meinecke, but some are doing it during the day too.
Side Effect: Abnormal bleeding
Certain meds can reduce the blood’s ability to clot, which can lead to bleeding problems during oral procedures or treatments.
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Stacey Colino is a freelance writer who specializes in health and psychological issues. Her work has appeared in many print and online publications, including Woman’s Day and Prevention. She is a frequent contributor to Completely You.
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