Why Your Dentist Should Know What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet


You should always be upfront with your dentist and tell them every medicine you take each day, vitamins and things like birth control included. Medications oftentimes have side effects that can affect the mouth, causing conditions like dry mouth or increased risk for tooth decay. If you’re on any type of medications, here’s why you need to tell your dentist prior to your cleaning or procedure. 

Your Medical History, Current Medicine, and Dentistry

If you think that your dentist doesn’t need to know about previous health conditions you’ve had even if they don’t pertain to your mouth, you’re wrong. Your dentist needs to know about any over-the-counter medications or prescriptions you have been taking when you come in for your appointment. It’s also important to let your dentist know if you’ve been experiencing side effects in your mouth due to these medications. 

Risks of Not Telling Your Dentist About Medicine 

If you don’t tell your dentist about what all you’re taking, there are several risks. First, if you are experiencing oral side effects to medications you’re on, you could be causing serious damage to your teeth and gums. Additionally, your dentist might not be able to prescribe medications or sedation properly. Medications can interfere with one another, and in some instances this can be fatal. Your dentist should know everything you’re on so they can properly prescribe and dose medications that will best help you. 

Some medicine can also cause abnormal bleeding and soft-tissue reactions, according to the ADA. Reduced blood clotting is a common side effect of medication like aspirin and anticoagulants. These medications can help prevent stroke and heart problems, but they can also cause bleeding problems during oral treatments or surgery. If you’re going to undergo a procedure that could cause bleeding, your dentist should know about the medicine you take. Also, some medicine can cause problems like oral sores. If this happens, your dentist can help, but they need to know what medicine is causing them. 

Medication Side Effects and Oral Health 

Many common medications that patients take for a variety of different conditions can cause side effects that affect your oral health. Not only are over-the-counter and prescription medicines to blame, but vitamins, supplements, and birth control can cause side effects too. Everyday Health names a few of the culprits to be: 

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Blood pressure medications 
  • Antidepressants 
  • Sedatives
  • Pain medications
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Antacids 

They go on to mention that the most common side effects from medications that affect oral health include: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Abnormal bleeding 
  • Altered taste
  • Inflammation
  • Mouth sores
  • Discolored or enlarged gums
  • Cavities 
  • Teeth color changes
  • Bone loss
  • Thrush, an oral yeast infection 

Of all these side effects, the most common is dry mouth. 

Dry Mouth

You’ve probably experienced dry mouth before, where you feel like you can’t get enough water if you tried. Dry mouth happens when your mouth isn’t producing enough saliva. This can happen when you’re under emotional stress, taking certain medications, or can be the result of other health problems. A dry mouth can feel sticky, can cause trouble eating or drinking, cause chapped lips, and more. If you have a dry mouth, it’s important to see your dentist to figure out how you can best fight it. When a medication causes this side effect, we know that you can’t just quit taking it. Fortunately, there are at-home treatments to help get rid of that annoying dry feeling. Common treatments include:

  • Chewing sugar-free gum
  • Limiting caffeine, sugar, and acidic food and drinks 
  • Not using alcohol mouthwashes 
  • Stopping tobacco usage
  • Sipping water often
  • Using over-the-counter saliva substitutes 
  • Trying mouthwashes designed for dry mouth
  • Avoiding over-the-counter allergy medications and decongestants
  • Use fluoride

Overall, it’s important that you’re upfront with your dentist and their team about what your health history has been like and what medications you currently take. Even if you don’t think they’re important to mention, it’s better to be safe than sorry. To help you remember, we recommend writing a list before you leave your home. That way you can see all your medications right in front of you and write them all down without forgetting anything. 

Call Niles Family Dentistry

If you’re in the Niwot, Longmont, and Boulder communities and are suffering from dry mouth, make an appointment with Dr. Ashley Niles and her team at Niles Family Dentistry. No matter the cause of your dry mouth or other symptoms, Dr. Niles will work with you to help ease your pain and find the cause of your problems to keep them from happening again.

Ashley Niles

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