Dental Tips Blog


Asthma Medications and Oral Health

Posted in Gum Disease

If you have asthma or other breathing problems such as emphysema or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) you may use inhalers on a regular basis.  Many medications make you more susceptible to mouth problems, and oral inhalers are one of them.  These inhalers may contain some oral steroids, making you more susceptible to yeast type infections in the mouth.  Yeast infections in the mouth, called oral candidiasis or thrush, show up as white spots on your mouth and tongue.  It can be painful.

Other side effects that may occur when you use inhaled medications include dry mouth, an increase in the number of cavities you may see, sores or ulcers in the mouth, gingivitis, periodontal disease and taste changes.  You may also notice a bad or funny taste in your mouth or chronic bad breath.  The cause of all of these problems is a lack of saliva; this lack of saliva makes your mouth and teeth more prone to infection, cavities, and other oral health problems.

Some common ways to help prevent these problems include rinsing your mouth after medications, sucking on sugar free hard candies, and chewing sugar free gums.  Eating smaller, but more frequent meals may also help stimulate increased saliva production.  All of these will help improve the saliva in your mouth and help decrease the problems you may be experiencing.

If you use an oral inhaler for any type of breathing problem, share this with your dentist.  He or she can help provide you with tips and techniques to help keep your mouth and teeth healthy during your treatment.


Medications and Gum Disease

Posted in Gum Disease

Gum disease is a common, but almost always preventable, problem that occurs in adults.  Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is the number one reason why adults lose their teeth as they age.  Unfortunately, as we age, we also may begin to take some medications that may increase our risks of developing gum disease.  This article will discuss some common medications that are associated with gum disease, and steps you can take to help limit your gum disease risk.

One of the most common drugs associated with development of gum disease is Dilantin (phenytoin). Dilantin, and other anti-seizure / anti-epileptic medications can cause gum hyperplasia.  Gum hyperplasia is a term that refers to developing excessive and tender gum tissue.  This tender gum tissue is more likely to allow plaque to thrive, and be more susceptible to bleeding and wounds.  If you, or a family member, take any medications to control seizures, be sure to let your dentist know.  Your dentist will perform a comprehensive examination, and may recommend that you have your teeth cleaned more frequently.  Additionally, your dentist can talk to your provider about any side-effects noticed during your oral examinations.

Another common medication that may lead to or increase the risk of gum disease includes steroids.  Many individuals take steroids such as prednisone for arthritis, asthma, or after an organ transplant.  Prednisone is an important medication, but it can cause gum hyperplasia. Just as you would with Dilantin, make sure your dentist is aware that you take prednisone or other steroids, and follow his or her advice on appointments, cleanings, and special cleaning devices to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Sometimes certain heart medications, especially calcium channel blockers, may also cause gum disease.  If you are taking a calcium channel blocker, such as Cardizem (diltiazam), make sure your dentist is aware of this and follow his or her instructions carefully to help keep your gums and teeth as healthy as possible.

In no case should you ever suddenly stop a prescribed medication. Always consult with the provider who ordered the medication, and have your health care team work together to find the best possible fit for you.  Working with all members of your health care team, all parts of you will remain healthy!

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