Many medications, whether. Prescribed by a doctor or bought over the counter, affect your oral health. Medicines used to treat cancer, high blood pressure, severe pain, depression, allergies and even the common cold can have a negative impact on your dental health.

One of the most common side effects of medications is dry mouth. Dry mouth increases your risk for tooth decay. A reduction in the amount of saliva in the mouth causes an uncomfortably dry mouth (xerostoma). Without enough saliva, the tissues in the mouth can become irritated and inflamed and this increases the risk of an infection or gum disease. Saliva helps keep food from collecting around your teeth and neutralizes the acids produced by plaque and these acids damage the hard surfaces of your teeth. Dry mouth is also a side effect of certain chemotherapy medicines.

Certain inhaler medications used for asthma may lead to a yeast infection in the mouth called oral candidiasis. Rinsing your mouth out with water after using an inhaler can help prevent this side effect.

Other medications can cause a buildup of gum tissue, a condition called “gingival overgrowth.” Gum tissue becomes so swollen that it begins to grow over the teeth. Gingival overgrowth increases your risk of periodontal disease. Swollen gum tissue creates a favorable environment for bacteria, which can damage surrounding tooth structures.

There are also medications that can cause abnormal bleeding and they include aspirin and anticoagulants, also known as blood thinners. They lessen the ability for blood to clot. While they are helpful in preventing heart attacks and stroke, they can cause your gums to bleed, especially during oral surgery. Dentists advice that a soft tooth brush and gentle motions should be used when brushing and flossing the teeth to lessen the bleeding.

There are also medications that alter taste. Certain drugs leave a metallic bitter taste in the mouth. And some medications may simply change the taste of the things you eat. Such medications include; cardiovascular drugs, central nervous system stimulants, flagyl (an antibiotic drug) and nicotine skin patches for smoking cessation.

There are also medications, especially for children, that contain sugar. Sugar is also found in antacid tablets, anti fungal agents and many chewable tablets, such as vitamins. Too much sugar can lead to cavities. It is advisable to brush the teeth with fluoride toothpaste or chew sugarless gum after taking such medications.

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