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What isn’t your doctor telling you about blood pressure medication?

added on: September 6, 2017

Did you know that blood pressure medication is one of the most common prescriptions in North America today?  Did you know these medications can cause dry mouth and tooth decay?

Blood pressure medication

Take a look at just a few of the drugs available:

Lisinopril, amlodipine, losartan, nebivolol, bystolic, metoprolol, olmesartan, hydrochlorothiazide, Benicar, atenolol, valsartan, norvask, diovan, clonidine, amlodipine, azor, cozaar, carvedilol, irbesartan, Lisinopril, Ramipril, exforge, benazepril

And that is just some – drug manufacturers make many different types of each of these!

One primary way blood pressure medication can work is by decreasing the amount of fluid in our bodies.  Sadly, the drugs also decrease the precious saliva that constantly bathes our teeth.  Without the protection saliva provides, decay-causing bacteria is free to wreak havoc on our teeth.

Sadly, the dental consequences are often overlooked and patients aren’t cautioned.  Even the listed “most common side-effects” of these drugs (here) rarely mention dry mouth or tooth decay.

Here is a common example of what we see when the decay starts

New Root Decay

If left untreated, the decay can quickly spread

While many problems like these in teeth can be treated (see here), how do we avoid it?

What to do about it?

  1. Be aware!  Just knowing that you might be more susceptible to tooth decay because of your dry mouth is half the battle.
  2. If you have some sweets in the afternoon be sure to rinse your mouth out with water.
  3. Drinking soda adds the sugar that bacteria needs.  If left on your teeth the decay can spread much more quickly without a healthy dose of saliva.  Not only should you rinse well with water following your soda, but also try and drink your soda in a short amount of time.  Don’t dilly dally!
  4. Keep water or sugar-free gum handy.  The water helps bathe the teeth and the gum can help stimulate the saliva you do have.
  5. Maintain your cleanings and exams with your dentist before it’s too late!  Not all decay is that easy to see at home.  If it is under a crown, often only an xray or a dentist will find it.
  6. Consult your doctor about your medication.  If you’re experiencing dry mouth and/or you are getting new cavities, there may be different medications for you.  You also should be getting regular checks to be sure your blood pressure medication is actually working to manage your BP.
  7. Some dry mouth conditions (like radiation treatment) can be predicted.  If this is the case, an in-office fluoride treatment like this may be necessary.
  8. There are also home treatments available.  Just imagine a whitening tray full of minerals for the teeth!

Clearly medication is beneficial to keeping us healthy and our blood pressure under control,  Just be sure you know the side effects and how they can impact your oral health.

Call us if we can be of any help!  here

Dr. Crosby