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How Drugs Can Impact Your Oral Health

Posted on 2/17/2017 by Office Manager
A patients mouth suffering from gum disease.
Most drugs, whether they're legal or not, have some sort of side effects that impact your health in some way. Many of those same drugs have some sort of negative impact on your oral health, affecting your teeth and gums.

While illegal drugs might seem like the biggest offender of these effects, many types of legal drugs - prescriptions, over the counters and even herbal supplements - can be just as damaging.

Dry Mouth

Saliva does more than keep your mouth moist. It is your mouth's natural defense against harmful bacteria, containing proteins that kill them while washing them, along with food particles, away. Many drugs impact your saliva production, leading to dry mouth. When this happens, your mouth becomes the perfect environment for bacteria to grow in.

Gum Disease

While dry mouth increases your risk of gum disease on its own, certain drugs can increase your risk of developing it, including antihistamines and immunosuppressants. These types of drugs can cause inflammation, which then allows dangerous bacteria to travel below the gum line.

Tooth Damage

Some drugs, like aspirin and asthma medications, are highly acidic. This means that if they are left on the teeth too long, those acids will begin to eat away at the enamel of your teeth. Worn enamel increases your risk for tooth decay. If the decay gets past the enamel and into the dentin, you can also be facing tooth sensitivity, as the channels to your tooth roots are exposed.


Some drugs are stimulants, which increases the likelihood that you will grind your teeth. Repeatedly doing so wears away at the enamel of your teeth, exposing dentin. Some can even wear their teeth down to nubs. Bruxism can also lead pain in your jaw, a condition known as temporomandibular disorder.

Taking care of your mouth is the best way to prevent many of these issues. You should be aware of the side effects of the medications you are on and take steps to prevent them. If you are partaking in illegal drugs, you should consider quitting. No matter what drugs you are taking, be sure to inform your dentist at your next visit.

Please contact our office if you have any questions about illegal drugs effects on your oral health.
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