This Is Your Mouth on Medicine

park-ridge-dentistryIf you are one of 70 percent of Americans who take at least one prescription medication, you’re no stranger to the world of side effects. It’s even become something of a running gag, pointing out that the side effects of the medication are even worse than the symptoms of the condition that’s being treated! Although any changes in medication should be initiated by your physician, understanding the impacts to your oral health is an important part of achieving a higher level of general wellness. Fortunately, say Drs. Maria and Thanasi Loukas, excellent hygiene, regular dental exams, and professional teeth cleaning from your Park Ridge, IL general dentist are sufficient to offset the majority of oral side effects.

“My medication affects my sense of taste.”

Several medications, including antidepressants, thyroid medications, and antibiotics, can leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth, while others change the way you taste different foods and liquids. Although this isn’t necessarily harmful, it can be disconcerting to discover that your favorite food no longer tastes the way it should. Focus on keeping your mouth clean by flossing and brushing diligently to remove any bitter residue, plaque, and food from on and between your teeth. Some patients chew sugar-free gum to mask a metallic, sour, or bitter taste.

“It feels like I have cotton in my mouth.”

Dry mouth, a side effect of antihistamines, hormone replacements, and some psychiatric medications, is of particular concern. More than just “spit,” saliva is your body’s natural version of Listerine mouthwash. It neutralizes acids in your mouth to protect your tooth enamel from erosion, and it rinses away food and bacteria to prevent plaque buildup—two critical functions in the fight against tooth decay and oral infection, including gingivitis. Hydration is key; drink plenty of water and avoid anything that dries out the mouth further, such as smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol. Over-the-counter saliva substitutes work well, as do sprays, lozenges, and mouth rinses formulated especially for combating dry mouth.

“My teeth appear stained and/or slightly darker than normal.”

Discoloration, while not harmful, is sometimes noticeable in patients who take certain antibiotics—especially at an early age—and in those who use medicated mouthwashes to treat periodontal disease. Over-the-counter teeth whitening products may treat light surface staining, but professional whitening is preferred for more resilient stains. We offer in-office and home whitening treatments, allowing you to brighten your smile in as little as one hour. Porcelain veneers and dental bonding are excellent options for those whose teeth do not respond to whitening, and for anyone who wants to improve the size and shape of their teeth. Both procedures can also create the appearance of straighter teeth—no braces needed!

Healthy mouth, healthy body. To learn more about preventive dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Maria and Thanasi Loukas, please contact our Park Ridge, IL dentist office at (847) 696-1919. We welcome patients living in and around the 60068 zip code, including Chicago and Park Ridge. For the latest news and insights from our practice, follow us on Facebook.

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