Antacids, Lozenges, and Cough Drops Are Sources of Cavities

Published: 21st March 2011
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The elderly man's front tooth had a large hole which was tooth decay the dentist had never before seen in his life. The man was taking nitroglycerine tablets which made him gag if he put them under his tongue, so he put them under his upper lip instead. These tablets created the hole in his tooth.

According to oral medicine experts, medicines such as vitamin C tablets and blood pressure pills may have serious bearing on dental problems of Americans. Patients suffer tooth decay and gum disease because their doctors either don't tell them these are the side effects of the medication or the doctors themselves have no clue.

Dentists should ask patients to tell them about what medicines they take and for what medical conditions, a dentist and pharmacologist said. He urges dentists to make careful observations on each tablet and pill and think about their side effects.

Oral medicine experts who were also instructor at this week's ADA meeting list down the following facts. Around 20% of patients who take doses of calcium channel blockers for heart conditions also suffer gum swelling. Gum disease and swelling are caused by the invasion of bacteria through the open pockets in gums brought by inflammation. Several of these medicines are taken by thousands of people.

Medications to prevent epilepsy attacks and to treat hyperactivity also create similar types of swelling. Another drug, cyclosporin, is used by organ transplant recipients and can cause massive gum overgrowth. Inflammation caused by leukemia is similar in appearance.

More than 400 drugs cause dry mouth, as can radiation treatment for cancer. Saliva is vital to a healthy mouth, and people who don't have enough are prone to cavities, excess plaque and fungal infections, and may need topical fluoride treatment. The problems caused by calcium channel blockers can be so serious that the dentist would call the doctor and ask him to change the prescription.

If not, then it is recommended that their plaque buildup be monitored and that trips to the dentist have to be done every two months. Another oral specialist points out that as long as the mouth is kept clean, then there's no worry about gum side effects. He stated that a mouth with no plaque is a mouth with no problem.

The only visible part of the front teeth of the Dilantin patient in the photo he showed was the tips because of swollen gums. 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 not the only sources of dental problems. Sugar is found in over the counter lozenges, cough drops, and antacids.

Repeated occurrence of cavities was the problem of one woman. She did not eat sweets so much and brushed her teeth regularly, and this made dentists wonder. Every day, the woman sucked on three packs of antacid, the dentist later on found out from his receptionist.

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