Millions of people across the globe take medications and are always warned about the side effects those medications may cause. However, patients don’t always fully understand all of these side effects and can be unaware that they may cause dental problems, in addition to the other side effects to the rest of the body.
According to researchers at the Salivary Dysfunction Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center, there are over 600 medications that cause dry mouth, which can lead to tooth decay. Ordinarily, saliva helps to break down starches and sugars in the mouth. When the mouth becomes dry, less saliva is made and more acid-producing food lingers on the teeth.
In a recent study on the drug Clonidine, researchers “showed that rats receiving clonidine developed 84 percent more cavities on the smooth surfaces of their teeth than rats that were not on the medicine.” Without the presence of saliva to neutralize an acid, enamel is far more prone to breaking down over time. Since enamel cannot be replaced, this process poses a significant problem for dentists and patients. When patients have a dry mouth they can be more likely to drink liquids, and if people choose liquids high in sugar, such as juice or soda, the choice can lead to even more dental decay.
Patients taking medications should disclose the names of the medications to their dentist and report any feelings of dry mouth as soon as possible before the decay becomes advanced.
If you have any questions about medications and their dental side effects or if you would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our team or make an appointment. Our incredible staff will give you the best dental care possible.