As medical science progresses, an increasing number of medications become available to patients to treat, prevent, and cure ailments and illnesses. But as anyone who has ever seen an advertisement for any medication knows, these drugs can have many and diverse side effects. And some of these side effects could cause more than just discomfort: they could affect your dental health.

So, can medications affect my teeth?

The short answer: Yes.

Many medications cause dry mouth, which causes bad breath, discomfort, and exacerbates tooth decay. When your mouth is dry, saliva isn’t breaking down acids and other substances that can erode your enamel. It also means that your mouth is more susceptible to bacteria that cause cavities, infections, and gum disease.

Medication side effects are a top cause of dry mouth, and hundreds of medications have dry mouth as a side effect. Some medications that commonly cause dry mouth are allergy medications, decongestants, antihistamines, antidepressants, muscle relaxers, diuretics, appetite suppressants, and diet pills, urinary incontinence medication, and even radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

How can I protect my teeth?

If you’re experiencing dry mouth as a side effect of a medication you’re taking, it’s important that you discuss the issue with both your doctor and your dentist in order to ensure that your dental health is maintained while maintaining your bodily and mental health as well. Sometimes this may mean that your doctor will put you on a different medication, and other times, it may be necessary to keep taking your current medication and add treatment for your dry mouth.

Even if you’re taking a medication that lists dry mouth as a symptom, that doesn’t mean that your dry mouth is caused by the medication. Dry mouth has other causes, such as mouth-breathing, snoring, or thrush. It can also be a symptom of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, nerve damage, strokes, or autoimmune disorders. This is why it is crucial to address you dry mouth with your doctor and dentist, to ensure that there is no major underlying health problem.

How is dry mouth treated?

Treatment for dry mouth can include specially-formulated mouthwashes or rinses, using a humidifier in your home, dietary changes like cutting back on drying foods (particularly salty foods), and lifestyle changes like cutting back on tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. Your dentist can help determine the best course of action for managing your dry mouth symptoms

To find out if your medication might be causing dry mouth or other dental issues, make an appointment with a dentist at Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry.