How Medication Can Affect Your Teeth


Many medications that we take, including prescribed and over-the-counter supplements, can have a range of side effects that elicit changes to our health, from headaches to drowsiness and many others in between. The side effects we experience can change as we age, as well, and may even cause unexpected impacts to our oral health.

Obtaining quality dental insurance, prioritizing preventive care and relaying all current medications you take to your dentist are important for staying up to date with your oral health. In addition, staying informed about the possible side effects of different medications can aid in knowing what to expect.

The best way to maintain your oral health is to regularly see a dentist. With Altus Dental, AAA members in Massachusetts can get quality dental care and coverage at exclusive AAA member rates. 

Depending on the medicine you take, these are some of the side effects you could experience when it comes to your dental health.


A side effect that is present in more than 500 medications to treat conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol is a symptom called dry mouth. Producing less saliva due to medication causes you to experience a cotton-like dryness in your mouth. The lack of saliva present increases your risk of tooth decay, as saliva helps to stop food from collecting around your teeth and neutralizes acids found in plaque. This tooth decay, in turn, increases the likelihood of the formation of cavities.

Fortunately, dry mouth symptoms can be improved. Drinking more water, using a humidifier and avoiding certain irritating drinks that may worsen your condition like coffee, alcohol, soda or acidic fruit juices will all help in maintaining a healthy oral environment. Consulting with your dentist for their recommendations for oral moisturizers like mouthwash or fluoride gel is also encouraged.

You can get the preventive care you need without having to worry about expense with Altus Dental through AAA Northeast, an affordable, accessible way to get dental coverage in Massachusetts.

Cancer Treatment

Chemotherapy and radiation are intended to eradicate cancer within the body but can cause oral complications in the process. Because both treatments either slow or halt the production of new cells altogether, the oral tissue is unable to repair itself after damage as it usually would.

Radiation on its own may damage oral tissue, salivary glands and even bone. Treatments for cancer also disturb the healthy balance of bacteria that’s present in the mouth. As a result, cancer patients may experience mouth sores, an increase in infections and tooth decay. Cancer treatment that includes bone-strengthening drugs can lead to uncommon but serious jaw issues, as well.

Before treatment begins, it’s imperative to inform your dentist about your diagnosis so that they are able to assess your current treatment plan accordingly.

Bleeding Problems

Because they are meant to reduce blood clots, anticoagulants like aspirin, heparin or warfarin are beneficial for preventing heart issues such as stroke or heart disease. Unfortunately, that also means they increase the likelihood of bleeding issues during oral treatment. Let your dentist know if you’re taking these types of medications before scheduling any surgery or dental care that could involve bleeding.

Affecting Your Taste

Your taste buds can be affected by some medications, too. Anti-inflammatory drugs, cardiovascular agents, respiratory inhalants and smoking-cessation products can all cause food or drinks to taste bitter or metallic. Some may even affect the ability to taste altogether.

Changes in Gum Tissue

Of course, as there are side effects for teeth, there are also some medication-induced side effects for the gums, as well.

Oral sores or ulcers, discoloration and inflammation have been noted in the soft tissues of the mouth after use of medications prescribed for blood pressure, oral contraceptives and immunosuppressive agents. An overgrowth of the gum tissue — known as gingival overgrowth — can sometimes be associated with anti-seizure medications and calcium blockers.

Making your dentist aware of the medications you’re taking and the side effects you’re experiencing from them is vital in keeping your oral health in tip top shape.

Regular visits to a trusted dentist will help you stay on top of issues that may arise. AAA members living in Massachusetts can get quality care and coverage in more than 10,000 locations locally with Altus Dental

Explore the benefits and enroll today.

Featured image: Courtesy of Altus Dental.


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