How Over-the-Counter Medications May Be Affecting Your Teeth

There’s nothing wrong with turning to an over-the-counter medication to ease your discomfort. Often times, it’s these medications that allow us to make it through the day despite a headache, stomach distress, or a hacking cough. Still, as someone concerned with their dental health, you may want to be aware of how your go-to medications could be affecting your teeth. Below are some little known side effects of medications and what you can do to help.

Dry Mouth

Many medications can cause dry mouth, both prescription and over-the-counter. The list includes antacids (like Tums), pain medications (like Advil), antihistamines (like Benadryl), and decongestants (like Sudafed) among others. The problem with dry mouth is that it inhibits the production of saliva, which is needed to keep your teeth clean. Without it, microscopic food particles and plaque can stick to your teeth, resulting in tooth decay or gum disease if untreated. To help, sip water throughout the day or increase saliva production by chewing on sugarless gum or sucking on sugar free hard candies.

Abnormal Bleeding

Products containing aspirin (like Excedrin) not only help dull aches and pains, they also thin the blood – which is why some cardiologists recommend an aspirin regimen to their patients. There are many times when thinned blood isn’t ideal, however, such as when you are flossing. If you occasionally take aspirin, then any bleeding should subside once the medication has left your system. If you are taking aspirin per your doctor’s orders, make sure you use a soft toothbrush and take extra care when flossing your teeth. Don’t forget to mention it when you visit the dentist; we can take precautions to minimize any bleeding you may experience during a cleaning or other treatment.

Increased Risk of Cavities

Lots of medications contain sugar to make the taste more palatable, particularly medications given to children. If you or your children use cough syrups, chewable vitamins, antacid tablets, or cough drops/throat lozenges, be sure to brush and floss afterwards to prevent the sugar from sticking to the surface of your teeth, leading to cavities or gum disease. If brushing your teeth isn’t realistic at the time, do what you can to increase saliva production (like chewing gum or taking the medication with a meal), as saliva can help remove residual sugars from the surface of your teeth.

At Family Dental Choice, we want you to feel good. We also want you to have healthy teeth. With a little bit of knowledge, you can have both. If you have any questions about other possible side effects from medications or wish to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hahn, contact our office today. We look forward to giving you a reason to smile!

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