Does My Medication Affect My Mouth?

Believe it or not, medications, while they affect your body systemically, also can affect your mouth! More specifically, if the medication is an antibiotic, over-the-counter pain reliever, antidepressant, etc. these all have the potential to negatively affect the oral cavity in some way.

Commonly, a side effect of many medications is dry mouth (xerostomia). The saliva is a useful tool for us to help break down food particles and neutralize the acids produced by plaque and bacteria. Many medications limit the production of saliva, which can increase the likelihood of dry mouth and tooth decay over time. If you believe you suffer from dry mouth, speak with your dental providers about what can help to improve this! Commonly, sugar-free xylitol gum can help to improve symptoms of dry mouth. Additionally, if you have taken an antibiotic medication in the past and experienced a “yeast infection,” this is possible of occuring in the mouth affecting the gums and cheek lining (soft tissue). Oral yeast (a fungal infection) is referred to as oral candidiasis, or sometimes referred to as thrush. Oral candidiasis may appear as white spots in the mouth and can be painful. If you take an inhaler this oral candidiasis is possible to occur. You can try to rinse your mouth out following use of an inhaler to prevent this from occurring.

Other drugs that can negatively affect the oral cavity may increase gum growth, or “gingival enlargement.” More specifically, anticonvulsants, calcium channel blockers and immunosuppressants can cause what is technically termed “drug-induced gingival enlargement.” This causes the gums, the soft tissue supporting the teeth to rapidly grow at rates that may clinically appear mild to severe. At a routine dental visit, the dental team will record up-to-date medical history and take an accurate intake of drugs to be able to consider any dental considerations at your appointment. If you happen to be on any cancer treatment drugs these can also affect your mouth. It can be helpful to speak with your physician to be certain that your mouth is healthy prior to starting any cancer treatments. Our great friend and top Raleigh, NC orthodontist Dr. Jason Gladwell has stated that many patients may not know the effects of their medications on their oral health.

Some people have side effects when flying as well. This is something to consider when it comes to your medication.


While it may be hard to believe, medications can take a toll on our mouths! If you are suffering from dry mouth or any other issues in your mouth and think it may be related to a new medication, please call River Run Dental for an evaluation with us! At your visit in our Richmond, VA dental office we will look at everything in your mouth to make a confirmed diagnosis. If there seems to be an underlying link to medication causing issues, we can certainly discuss possible treatment options so that your mouth and teeth can stay healthy!