When most people think about dental care, they focus on the strength, health, and appearance of their teeth. However, the gums play a role in the overall health and function of the smile. The gums support the teeth and provide the strong foundation that allows a person to bite and chew with comfort and ease. If the health of the gums suffers, it can affect the health of the teeth, leaving the patient in need of restorative dentistry care to repair dental damage.
There are many factors that can affect the health of the gums. While some, such as neglectful oral hygiene, may seem obvious, others are quite surprising. One of the causes of poor gum health is the use of certain medications. Experienced dentist Rohinton J. Patel helps his patients understand the link between poor gum health and medications, and discusses practices that his Honolulu, HI patients can follow to protect the health and beauty of the smile.
How Medication Affects the Gums
Medication has many benefits, and if a patient has been prescribed medicine, it is important that they follow the use instructions as ordered by the doctor. Unfortunately, medications also have side effects. One of the more minor side effects of certain medication is dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition that limits saliva production and leaves the mouth feeling dry and sticky. Most people view dry mouth as nothing more than a minor nuisance. However, dry mouth can have more serious side effects.
Dry mouth actually has a significant impact on oral health. Saliva plays an important role in the digestive process, helping the mouth to break down food. Additionally, saliva is a natural cleanser. When a person is done eating or drinking, saliva helps to rinse away bacteria, sugars, acids, and starches. Without saliva, these substances can build up on the teeth. This buildup can lead to decay and infection, including gum disease.
Which Medications Affect Gum Health?
There are numerous medications that can cause dry mouth and, therefore, may lead to poor gum health. Some of the most common include the following:
- Medication for high blood pressure
- Anticonvulsants (medication for seizures)
- Certain forms of birth control
Preserving Gum Health
Patients who take medications that may cause dry mouth should share this information with Dr. Patel so he can be especially thorough when examining the mouth for signs of gum disease. Patients will also need to be extra thorough with their oral care. The following practices will help patients preserve gum health, despite the potential side effects of medication:
- Brush at least twice a day
- Floss daily
- Drink plenty of water
- Consider the use of an artificial saliva (available in the form of a rinse or mouthwash)
- Schedule routine dental exams and cleanings at least biannually, or more frequently, if recommended
- Follow up with any recommended restorative dentistry services to repair any damage that may have already occurred
If you take medications that threaten the health of your gums, it is especially important that you rely on professional dental care to help you preserve your oral health. Contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about the comprehensive range of dental services offered by Dr. Rohinton J. Patel.