Senior Dental Health: Medications

medicationsAs you get older it is likely your doctor will begin prescribing medications for things such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and other ailments that come with age. That’s just a hard truth. The upside is, they can improve your quality of life, and the downside is that they can wreak havoc on your oral and dental health. Medications for people of any age can have an effect on their teeth. This is something many people don’t consider. If you’re on medications, bring it to the attention of your dentist so he or she can factor them into your dental care.

Meds for Stroke and Heart Disease

Aspirin and anticoagulants are often prescribed to reduce the chances of heart attack and stroke. They reduce blood clotting by thinning your blood. However, they can also cause abnormal bleeding of the gums. Such medicines include warfarin and heparin.

Soft Tissue Issues

Certain medications including oral contraceptives, immunosuppressants and chemotherapeutic agents, as well as those prescribed for blood pressure control, can cause oral tissue discoloration, and/or inflammation, and sores on the soft tissues of the mouth. In such cases, your dentist may prescribe a special oral health regimen to reduce these effects.

Gingival Overgrowth

Certain medications can cause the overdevelopment of, or enlarged, gum tissue. Patients who are taking the following medications need to pay special attention to their oral hygiene, especially in relation to their gums:

Anti-seizure medications: phenytoin.

Immunosuppressants and calcium channel blockers: nifedipine, verapamil, diltiazem, amlodipine.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can be caused by a variety of medications including:

  • Pain killers
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • High blood pressure meds
  • Urinary incontinence meds
  • Antidepressants
  • Medications for Parkinson’s Disease

Tooth Decay

Many medications include sugar as an ingredient to make them palatable. Children’s medications such as syrupy cough medicines, leave a sticky, sugary residue on their teeth. These medications can lead to tooth decay and include:

  • Vitamins
  • Antacids
  • Cough drops
  • Liquid medications
  • Antifungal agents