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Warning! Top Common Oral Side Effects of Medications & What You Can Do

Have you ever experienced something weird going on with your mouth that’s more than just a toothache? You might want to take a look at your medications. Certain drugs reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth, contribute to an overgrowth of yeast, or stimulate an autoimmune response that leads to mouth sores. Here are the most common oral side effects of the medications you’re taking.

Dry Mouth

Xerostomia, or dry mouth, is the most common oral side effect and is the result of a decrease in saliva production. Without the proper amount of saliva, the tissues in your mouth can become irritated and increase your risk of infection. If left unchecked, dry mouth can lead to oral complications including tooth decay, gum disease, and mouth sores.

  • Know the symptoms – In order for your dentist to properly diagnose your condition, you should pay attention to the symptoms. Dryness in the mouth or throat and bad breath will be the most obvious signs. Be prepared! Your dentist is most likely to request a full medical history and a list of current medications.
  • Prescription drugs are only part of the equation – There are several medications that reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth including antihistamines, antidepressants, and certain heart medications. While prescriptions drugs lead to dry mouth, you should be aware that many over-the-counter drugs also contribute to this condition.
  • Alleviate dry mouth today! – Ask your dentist about using an artificial saliva product that will stimulate your body’s natural production of saliva. Other treatment options include drinking plenty of water and chewing sugarless gum.


Oral ThrushCommon Oral Side Effects of Medications | Dr. Wolnik

The second most common oral side effect of medications is an overgrowth of naturally occurring yeast fungi in the mouth. Normally, the fungi is kept in check by other bacteria and microorganisms, however, certain medications, like antibiotics, steroids, and birth control pills can disturb the delicate balance.

  • A yeast infection in your mouth – Essentially, oral thrush is a yeast infection that presents itself as a white, lightly patched film on the tongue. Only your dentist will know for sure that it’s oral thrush, but signs you should be aware of include pain, difficulty swallowing, and fever.
  • Look for the underlying cause – This type of infection occurs most often in infants, but develops in adults, too. Oral thrush can be a symptom of other medical problems like diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or cancer. Your dentist may suggest you consult with your primary care physician to treat the underlying health problem.


Mouth Ulcers

Canker sores that often appear on the inside of cheeks usually go away in a week, but there are certain medications that trigger recurring outbreaks. If you’re on pain killers or beta-blockers, you’re more likely to develop these painful sores in your mouth. Your dentist may prescribe a corticosteroid ointment or recommend an over-the-counter lozenge that contains a local anesthetic for immediate relief.

  • A recurring problem – Nearly 20% of the population get recurring mouth sores that take up to 14 days to heal, but in more severe cases, these sores can take several weeks to heal and may even leave a scar.
  • Watch your diet! – One of the best things you can do to determine the cause of your mouth sores is to pay attention to your diet. Allergic reactions to certain foods and nutritional deficiencies are all potential underlying conditions which cause mouth sores. In addition, people who are prone to autoimmune diseases, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or those who have a weak immune system are also vulnerable.
  • Natural remedies aid the healing process  – Though prescription and over-the-counter medications are standard treatment options, there are several natural remedies that you can try for pain management. Using milk of magnesia as a mouthwash is one option. Mixing baking soda with water to create a paste that you can then rub on the sore is also a beneficial remedy.


Contact Dr. Wolnik

To learn more about oral side effects of medication or to set up an appointment, contact our office today!

6363 York Rd, Ste 202
Parma Heights, OH 44130

Phone: (440) 888-5055


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