Helping our patients maintain a healthy, great-looking smile requires keeping them informed about what can inadvertently harm their oral health. As Erie, Colorado dentists, Drs. Matheson and Bateman believe that improved patient education offers the best solution for keeping patients smiling brightly for a lifetime. The more patients understand about what can harm the health of their teeth, the better able they become at fighting back.
When most patients think about the different factors that contribute to tooth decay and gum disease, they often think about more obvious things such as the foods they eat and how frequently they brush and floss. However, the majority never stop to consider what effect their prescription medication may be having on their oral health.
Nearly 50 percent of all Americans take at least one prescription drug, according to the American Dental Association. This number grows even larger among seniors with 90 percent of adults 65 and over taking at least one prescribed medication.
Understanding how prescription medications can impact our oral health is an important part of providing our teeth and gums the protection they need. Here are just a few of the ways how the medications we take can impact our oral health.
The primary concern regarding oral health and the prescription medications we take is dry mouth. Medications that cause dry mouth as a symptom increase an individual’s risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and oral sores. Seniors are more likely to deal with medication related dry mouth simply because they are far more likely to take multiple prescriptions.
Over 500 different medications can contribute to the development of dry mouth, according to the American Pharmacists Association. Among these commonly prescribed medications include those for high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and heart disease.
Saliva plays a vital role in protecting our bodies. Not only does it help to break down the foods we eat as we chew, it also acts as the body’s natural defense mechanism against harmful bacteria that grows in the mouth. Saliva works to neutralize harmful oral bacteria while also washing food particles away from the surface of our teeth and gums. Saliva also contains a variety of powerful nutrients that help to strengthen enamel, making teeth more resilient to decay.
It’s important that patients understand whether their medication causes dry mouth as a symptom. If your saliva flow starts to decrease after taking a new medication, or you’ve noticed your mouth often feels dry, talk to our Erie, Colorado dentists. Drs. Matheson and Bateman may be able to recommend a different medication that treats the same underlying conditions that doesn’t cause dry mouth as a symptom.
Our dentists can also offer patients substitute saliva sprays or toothpastes that can help to alleviate dry mouth.
Patients who take prescription medications need to tell our Erie, Colorado dentists before undergoing any type of treatment. Certain types of treatments, such as dental surgery, may not be safe for patients taking specific types of medications.
For example, patients who take medications to help prevent the loss of bone density, such as those given to treat osteoporosis, may be at risk during surgery. These drugs, known as bisphosphonates, can cause complications during any type of dental surgery, such as the placement of dental implants or wisdom tooth extraction.
Bisphosphonates prevent the bone from breaking down and building back up, thereby preventing it from healing properly. Patients taking bone density medications are prone to experiencing bone necrosis of the jaw after oral surgery, meaning that parts of the jaw bone begin to die as a result of not enough blood flow. This condition is more likely to occur in elderly patients as they are far more likely to take this type of medication.
By letting our dentists know what medications you take, Drs. Matheson and Bateman can provide you with the proper treatment that won’t put your overall health at risk. Our mouths and bodies are interconnected so that what affects one can impact the other. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that medications you take for heart disease, diabetes, depression, etc. can’t impact the health of your teeth and gums.