Are Your Medications Causing Dental Problems? Things You Need to Know

Dental Problems

Did you know that the pills you take for your health could be harming your teeth? It’s not something most of us consider, but the truth is that many common medications have side effects that put your smile at risk. Dry mouth, tooth staining, and even unexpected changes in taste can all contribute to cavities, gum problems, and more. It can be frustrating and sometimes scary.

The good news is that you can take measures to protect your teeth while taking the medications you need. In this blog, we’ll explore what to look out for, the questions to ask your doctor, and how to work with your dentist to maintain your healthy smile.

How Do Medications Cause Dental Problems?

There are around 5,847 cosmetic dental offices in the U.S., and many notice a connection between common medications and dental issues. These are essential for managing health conditions, but they can sometimes come with unintended side effects, including damage to your teeth and gums. 

Saliva plays a surprisingly crucial role in oral health. It naturally washes away food particles, neutralizes harmful acids, and even assists with minor tooth enamel repair. Unfortunately, our mouths produce less saliva as we age, leading to dry mouth. That’s why 30% of people over 65 and 40% of those over 80 experience dry mouth. 

Additionally, many medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines, and some blood pressure, can worsen this problem. Chronic dry mouth dramatically increases your risk of cavities, gum infections, and other dental problems.

Dry mouth isn’t the only risk; some medications directly impact teeth. One prominent example is Suboxone, a drug used for opioid addiction treatment. Suboxone, particularly in sublingual film form, is highly acidic. When the medication is dissolved under the tongue as intended, this acidity can gradually erode tooth enamel over time.

According to TorHoerman Law, people using Suboxone report a higher incidence of dental issues, such as tooth decay, dry mouth, and gum disease, compared to those using other opioid treatment medications.

This is a significant reason why people file a Suboxone lawsuit, against the manufacturer, Indivior Solutions. In 2020, the company faced criminal and civil liability and ultimately settled for over $600 million.

Other It can cause staining (like tetracycline antibiotics) or alter your taste buds, potentially leading to cravings for sugary foods and drinks that harm your teeth.

Medications That Can Damage Teeth and Gums

Damage Teeth and Gums


Millions of people rely on antidepressants to manage depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. While incredibly effective, some of the most common antidepressants, like Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro (all belonging to the SSRI class), can cause significant dry mouth. 

This side effect occurs because these medications interfere with saliva production. A dry mouth can be uncomfortable, increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, and make eating and speaking more difficult.


Whether you have seasonal allergies, get occasional hives, or take sleep aids with antihistamines, be aware of the dry mouth effect. These medicines block specific signals in your body, which can cause dryness in your mouth, nose, and throat. Unfortunately, this also reduces saliva production.

Sucking on sugar-free lozenges or chewing sugar-free gum can help stimulate some saliva flow. However, if your mouth continues to feel dry for over two weeks, check with your doctor.


High blood pressure is a severe health risk, so following your treatment plan is essential. Certain blood pressure medications, particularly diuretics (“water pills“) and some calcium channel blockers, can cause two problems: dry mouth and, in some cases, an overgrowth of gum tissue. This overgrowth makes it harder to brush and floss effectively, raising your risk of gum disease.

Chemotherapy Medications

Chemotherapy drugs save lives, but they have a wide range of side effects. More than 80% of people experience xerostomia (dry mouth) after radiation to the head and neck or from certain chemotherapy medications. While dry mouth is standard, these powerful medications weaken the immune system, making people far more susceptible to infections, including those affecting the mouth.

Oral Contraceptives

For most women, oral contraceptive risks are minimal. However, studies have shown an increased risk of gingival bleeding (gum disease), dental caries, and oral ulcers in women taking oral contraceptives (OCPs).

Protecting Your Smile While On Medication

Medication shouldn’t mean sacrificing your dental health. With a proactive approach and open communication with your healthcare team, you can maintain a healthy smile while managing your medical needs.

Your first line of defense is boosting your dental care routine. If you’re on medications known to cause dry mouth or other dental concerns, be extra diligent about brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily. Never skip either of these steps.  According to the NIDCR, fluoride is a mineral that can prevent tooth decay and mineral loss in tooth enamel. Your dentist might recommend fluoride rinses or gels for extra protection.

Dental checkups are important. While every six months is typical, your dentist might suggest more frequent visits if you’re at higher risk for problems.

Every time your doctor prescribes a new medication or makes any changes, ask these key questions: “Can this medication affect my teeth or mouth?” “Are there alternative medications with fewer dental side effects?” “Are there ways to manage the dryness this medication causes?”

Always ensure your dentist has a complete list of all your current medications and medical history. Then, ask them if you should change your home care routine if any unique in-office treatments are needed, and whether more frequent checkups are a good idea.


What Medications Cause Bone Loss in Teeth?

Several medications, such as corticosteroids, bisphosphonates, or anticonvulsants, can contribute to bone loss in and around the teeth. It’s crucial to always inform your dentist and doctor. You’re taking, including over-the-counter and supplements.

How Many Cavities per Year Is Standard?

There’s no single “normal” number of cavities per year. An average adult could get cavity fillings around 4 to 8. Good oral health generally means you shouldn’t be getting multiple new cavities every year. If you need fillings frequently, it’s a sign to talk to your dentist about potential causes and prevention.

What Diseases Cause Rapid Tooth Decay?

Diseases like diabetes, dry mouth, and GERD can accelerate tooth decay. If you have any of these conditions, working closely with your doctor and dentist is crucial to protect your oral health.

After all, protecting your oral health takes teamwork. Be sure to notice any changes in your mouth (dryness, sores, sensitivity) and tell your doctor and dentist immediately.

Your doctor will ensure you’re on the proper medications, and your dentist can provide personalized care to prevent issues or catch them early. By understanding how this can impact your teeth and gums and working closely with your healthcare team, you can keep your smile healthy for years.

Also Read: Smart Square HMH: A Comprehensive Solution For Healthcare

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *