If you take a medication, either prescribed by your doctor or over the counter, are you aware of the side effects? Many chemist-bought drugs can lead to a number of oral deficiencies.
Approximately 140,000 Australians are admitted to hospital each year due to the side effects of medications. A scary statistic keeping in mind the people who ‘push through’ any drug related side effects by avoiding medical attention. SV Implant Centre Melbourne fear that the pursuit of relief for our bodies can lead the oral condition down a one way road to disease, decay and tooth loss.
Another scary statistic; 60% of Australians who take medication admit to using complementary drugs at least once per year. Usually, people who use complementary drugs do this to amplify the effect or benefit of the medication they have been prescribed. For example: ingesting herbs along with prescribed medicine.
While the theory behind this may be conceptually viable, in reality, it is quite the opposite. Some drugs taken with complementary drugs can either cancel out the effect of the medicine or it may cause a reaction that shows itself in much more severe symptoms (have you ever mixed vinegar and bi-carb soda).
These scenarios can all have a negative impact on your oral health, but that doesn’t mean taking medications on their own is a safe way either. The onus comes down to educating yourself about the known side effects by talking to your doctor, reading information about the medication online and trialling how your body reacts to the medication.
The main oral symptoms of medications
The main side effect of most prescription drugs and medications is dry mouth syndrome, also known as xerostomia. While dry mouth is a relatively common medical condition, if left untreated dry mouth can cause numerous problems:
- Oral thrush
- Excessive gum growth causing teeth to shift and/or decay
- Fungal infections
- Speaking & swallowing difficulties and,
- Tooth Loss
Types of Medications
Australians take many different medications for many different purposes that usually, from a dental perspective, fit into 3 broad categories:
- Relief – Used for conditions such as insomnia, nicotine addiction, hay fever, hair loss and appetite suppression
- Maintenance –Used for the management of pain, anxiety, depression, diabetes and water retention.
- Treatment – used to treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, HIV, stroke etc.
Dependent on what condition you have will dictate what medication you take, making the side effects range from minor to severe. However, there are certain steps you can take to make sure you are maintaining optimal oral health.
Steps to Optimal Oral Health
Here at SV Dental Implant Centre located inside the St Vincent Hospital Fitzroy, all we care about is making our patients happy by restoring oral function and aesthetics. We have put together some steps for keeping your mouth healthy if you are taking any medications.
Drink Water. This step may seem simple but is probably the most overlooked. Aim for around 8 glasses per day to keep your mouth hydrated.
Prescribed toothpaste. Brushing your teeth is crucial to oral health, but when medication is reducing the efficiency of your saliva production, you may need a supplement in the form of a specially designed tooth paste. Speak to your dentist about what toothpaste is right for you.
Communicate with your dentist. Don’t keep your medications a secret from your dentist. Let him/her know what you are taking and they can then inform you on the best practice.
If you have suffered tooth loss as a result of medication or drug use;