Over the Counter Medications and Dental Health
If you are like most people, you may not give much thought when picking out your usual over the counter (OTC) medication for allergy relief, to treat a cough or cold, or for help with a headache. Although most medications are completely safe when used as directed, some do pose a real hazard to the health of your teeth.
Studies have shown that as many as 400 different common over the counter medications can cause serious dental problems, such as bleeding gums, increased bone loss, gum inflammation, and mouth sores – as well as contributing to tooth decay.
When it comes to OTC medications, it can be hard to find one that helps you get the relief you need, without the dental damage you don’t. For example, certain over the counter medications such as chewable antacids may weaken your teeth because they also contain large amounts of sugar to mask an otherwise unpleasant taste. Others are more insidious, as their ingredients can weaken teeth from the inside.
Pain medications and some commonly used sleeping aids and oral antihistamines are known to cause a dry mouth. Dry mouth in turn cuts down on saliva. Saliva has specific, naturally occurring enzymes that help to kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. In a nutshell, a dry mouth is more likely to create a ready environment for bad bacteria to exploit.
Good OTC Medications for Healthier Teeth and Gums
There are also some really good OTC medications that do improve oral health. It may surprise you to think of them this way, but the truth is that fluoride rinses, mouthwash, and toothpaste are all forms of OTC medications. The difference is, of course, that using these is a good way to help protect your pearly whites.
Besides eating a healthy diet, make sure to carefully brush and floss at least twice a day. Use an approved fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush recommended by your dental professional. See your dentist regularly and make sure to ask about over the counter medications you take on a regular basis.
If you have questions or concerns about an over the counter (OTC) medication you take on a regular basis, please call (724) 452-4300 or schedule an appointment online today. Dr. Mark A. Marion of the Marion Smile Center has been selected as one of America’s Best Dentists by the International Association of Dentists and been awarded numerous accolades by his patients and peers. Come see what sets us apart from the rest.