Your Medications Can Affect Your Teeth and Your Gums

You might not think that taking a pill (or pills) would affect your mouth, but it does!


Some medications (such as sedatives, tranquilizers, narcotic pain medications, antimetabolites, and high blood pressure medications) have a depressant effect and some cause drowsiness. Both of these effects can make it harder for you to motivate yourself to brush and floss your teeth. The bacteria left behind can cause cavities or gum problems.


Beta Blockers, used for heart conditions, can cause soft denture reline material to harden up.


Your plaque composition and pH of your mouth may be changed by liquid medications. Sugar is often added to the liquids to make them taste better. Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth and leads to cavities. Liquid medications may also act to change the tooth so that more plaque sticks to your teeth. Plaque holds bacteria against your teeth and can cause cavities or gum disease.


Some medications (such as Dilantin and Calcium channel blockers) cause gums to overgrow. Some evidence suggests that good oral hygiene beginning when you start taking the medications reduces the chance of this happening. If your gum overgrowth gets large enough, you might need gum surgery to trim the extra off.


Dry mouth is a side effect of too many medicatins to list all of them here. Dry mouth means less saliva (spit) and less rinsing action of food and plaque off your teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that can cause cavities or gum problems. If you are a denture wearer, you may find that your dentures don’t stay in as well. A denture relies on a seal created by a thin layer of saliva (spit) between your tissues and the denture material.


There are some medicines that help your mouth too—and we’ll talk about those in other columns! But if you are on any of the medicines discussed above, keep a close watch on your mouth and ask your dentist to watch over things as well. If you do not have a dentist, please consider joining Dr. Robb’s practice—and check out our patient education section on


*Note: This advice is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.


Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who sees adults and children at her office located at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. Call 440-960-1940!