How Different Medications Can Affect Your Oral Health
Medicines are meant to make you feel better, but many of them have side effects that may cause other health concerns for you. For example, here are three types of medications that may affect your oral health:
Inhalers, which are used for asthma medication, can encourage oral yeast infection. Steroids are the main active ingredients in inhalers, and they work by suppressing your lungs' immune system. This is beneficial for the lungs, but when the same thing happens to the oral cavity, it gives the candida (yeast) that is normally present in your mouth a chance to grow.
According to WebMD, you can mitigate this effect by:
- Rinsing your mouth every time you use the inhaler
- Gargling after inhaling the drug
- Using the exact dosage as instructed by your doctor (this is usually the lowest dose to minimize side effects)
Blood Pressure Medications
Many blood pressure medications contain calcium channel blockers (CCB) as their main active ingredients. The drugs work by dilating your blood vessels so that your heart doesn't have to work very hard to supply your body with oxygen. Just like other medications, however, CCBs have their side effects, and one of them is gum hyperplasia (overgrowth).
When your gums are swollen, they:
- Become painful during teeth brushing
- Trap more bacteria
Both of these are threats to oral health, but you can mitigate them by being extra careful with your oral hygiene and increasing the frequency of your regular dental visits.
Chemotherapy involves the use of chemicals to target cancer cells without damaging healthy tissues. Unfortunately, some of these chemicals sometimes damage healthy cells and change them in different ways. For example, they can trigger mucositis, a painful condition in which the oral lining of the mouth swells, develops ulcers, and sores.
Unfortunately, it would not be wise to stop chemotherapy because of mucositis because the consequences (rapid progression of the disease) would be worse. However, you can reduce the inflammation by staying hydrated, controlling other diseases you may have and avoiding tobacco and alcohol. In addition, there are measures your medical team can take to reduce the severity of mucositis, so you should tell them immediately you start experiencing the symptoms.
As you can see, the medications you use may have far reaching consequences as far as your oral health is concerned. This is why you should always inform a dentist (such as Stephen P. Cary, DMD) about all drugs you are taking when you go for your dental consultations.