Women utilizing medications for various medical conditions may be unaware of potential side effects, with dry mouth, technically known as xerostomia, being a common repercussion. Medications like blood pressure medications, birth control pills, antidepressants, and cancer treatments can contribute to xerostomia, leading to adverse effects in the oral cavity, including heightened susceptibility to periodontal disease and an increased rate of decay.
Patients, who have been cavity-free for an extended period, may suddenly experience a multitude of cavities around crowns and at the gum line or develop active periodontal disease upon starting a new medication. Xerostomia occurs when saliva flow diminishes, allowing harmful bacteria to thrive in the mouth, leading to decay and gum disease. Many patients may not realize that the reduction in saliva flow is a side effect of their medication.
Birth control pills, in particular, can elevate the risk of inflammation and bleeding gums, while individuals undergoing cancer treatments, especially radiation to the head and neck, face a significantly heightened risk of oral complications due to potential damage to the saliva glands.
To manage xerostomia, various over-the-counter saliva substitutes and products can temporarily increase saliva production. For women experiencing severe dry mouth or a high decay rate, home fluoride treatments are a viable option. These treatments include custom fluoride trays worn for a brief period each day at home, prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste, or over-the-counter fluoride rinses. If you have inquiries about fluoride treatments, feel free to discuss them with Dr. Sindledecker and Dr. Saltz during your next visit to our office.
While the benefits of many medications outweigh the risks associated with xerostomia, regular dental exams can help manage the risk and prevent potential oral consequences resulting from medication use.