Medications & Oral Health

Certain kinds of medications can affect the way different foods taste, salivation, and gum health. Therefore, it’s important to ask your doctor about the side effects of the medications that you are taking. Depending on the drug, there are ways around some of the negative effects on your oral health. Make sure to speak with your dentist for personalized suggestions.

Common Side Effects

Some of the more common side effects caused by medications such as antibiotics, antihistamines, antipsychotics, anti-nausea, and anti-diarrheal drugs include (but are not limited to):

  1. Dry mouth
    • Antihistamines are infamous for causing dry mouth as they tend to cause tissues to dry out.
  2. Metallic taste
    • Distorted taste or “metallic” taste may occur when taking certain drugs. This effect is usually temporary and will stop upon finishing the medication.
  3. Fungal Infection (thrush)
    • Antibiotics kill off all of the bacteria in the body—including the good bacteria. When the bacteria die, an overgrowth of yeast can develop causing a condition called thrush.
  4. Inflammation of the lining of the mouth (mucositis)
    • Chemotherapy drugs may damage the cells inside of the mouth causing inflammation of the tissues, also known as mucositis. Swelling of the tongue, pain, ulcers and bleeding tend to accompany mucositis.
  5. Tooth decay
    • Long-term use of antibiotics and other drugs can cause tooth decay. This may be caused by a lack of saliva in the mouth to help wash bacteria off of the teeth, and/or sugars added to certain drugs.
  6. Tooth discoloration
    • A drug called tetracycline is notable for causing tooth discoloration, or a yellowing of the teeth. This side effect is most common in people without fully-formed teeth.


One of the most effective ways to treat side effects from a medication is to simply stop using it and/or switch to a different medication. In cases where cessation of medication is not possible, some of the following steps can be taken:

  1. Chew ADA recommended gum to increase salivation to reduce dry mouth
  2. Take probiotics to prevent fungal infections
  3. Take over-the-counter pain medications to reduce pain and swelling
  4. Make more frequent visits to the dentist to improve oral health
  5. Stay hydrated to help wash away foul taste

Advanced DDS is a premiere dental office where our number one priority is you. Schedule your dental appointment at 516-825-1100 for long lasting oral health.

Oral Health

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