The dentist was not expecting to see such a large black hole on the elderly man’s front tooth. He was taking nitroglycerine tablets which he placed under his upper lip instead of under his tongue. The hole in his tooth was caused by the tablets.
Hundreds of medicines that Americans take every day, from the country’s most popular blood pressure pills to chewable vitamin C tablets, can cause serious tooth decay and gum disease, oral medicine experts told the American Dental Association. Either doctors have no clue to these dental side effects or they don’t let their patients know, say the specialists.
A dentist and pharmacologist at the University of Buffalo said they urged dentists to question patients about their general health and medications. He said you need to scrutinize each medicine and think about how it can affect their dental health.
Oral medicine experts who were also instructor at this week’s ADA meeting list down the following facts. Gum swelling is apparently suffered by 20% of patients who take calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure and heart disease. Pockets in the gums caused by inflammation create entrances for bacteria, and this leads to massive swelling and gum disease. These medicines are widely used around the nation.
Anti epilepsy drugs and amphetamines are the source of other swellings as well. Cyclosporin is a medication that organ transplant recipients take, and its side effects include massive gum overgrowth. According to the dentist, its appearance can be mistaken for the inflammation caused by leukemia.
Cancer patients experience dry mouth from radiation treatment, and dry mouth is a side effect of more than 400 drugs. Topical fluoride treatment might be necessary for people who don’t have enough saliva since they are prone to dental problems and infections. The dentist would usually tell the patient’s doctor that if possible, he should change the calcium channel blockers prescription and switch it with another heart medicine.
If not, they need very strict plaque control and to see the dentist every two months, he said. Showing a photograph of a patient with damaged teeth and gums, another dentist pointed out that gum side effects can be avoided by a clean mouth. Absence of plaque is the absence of any problem, he stated.
The gums of the Dilantin patient in the picture he had were swelling so badly that only the tips of his front teeth were seen. He stated that a patient who is taking Dilantin is recommended to consult the dentist in 10 days so that the gum pockets where bacteria lurks could be treated. Prescription drugs are just among other problems for dentists. Sugar is an ingredient found in lozenges and cough drops, as well as antacids.
In one woman’s case, cavities were always showing all throughout her mouth. She rarely ate sweets and always brushed her teeth, so dentists were a bit confused. Large amounts of antacid were consumed by the woman every day, it was later found out.