Medications and Tooth Decay

Did you know? Nearly 400 medications are associated with tooth decay. This includes both over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs. Perhaps the most damaging side effect of these medications is dry mouth (Xerostomia). Initially, dry mouth may be nothing more than a nuisance. Yet, over time, it is a main contributor to mouth infections and decay. Consider the following commonly used medications that are known to cause dry mouth, and in turn, may lead to tooth decay:


Widely used, antacids such as Tums, Prilosec, and Alka-Seltzer are linked to dry mouth. In turn, high amounts of sugar (in chewable forms) prove to weaken teeth, making them more susceptible to decay.

To combat the effects of antacids, dental professionals usually recommend that patients take a sugarless antacid, drink water throughout the day, and chew sugarless gum or use a mouth moisturizer to increase saliva production. Most importantly, however, it’s important not to skip regular dental visits!

Pain Medications

Also linked to dry mouth, pain medications (including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS) contribute to tooth decay with prolonged use. Specifically, prescription pain medications such as Oxycontin and Tramadol are linked to serious dental issues.

Again, the most damaging side effect is dry mouth. Thus, individuals are encouraged to use moisturizing spray, chew sugarless gum, and drink plenty of water during the day to help wash away harmful bacteria.

Antihistamines, Decongestants

While use of antihistamines and decongestants is seasonal for most individuals, it is important to understand how these types of medications can affect saliva production. For instance, while antihistamines block the histamine receptors to prevent allergic reactions in individuals, they also block the release of saliva completely.

On the other hand, while decongestants are commonly used to treat colds and allergies, cough syrups contain high levels of acid. Acids prove to wear away gum tissues, exposing more tooth structure and providing a place for bacteria to settle.

Knowledge Is Key

When it comes to medications, dry mouth, and tooth decay, knowledge is key. If you need to take the above-mentioned medications to stay healthy, it’s important to speak with you dentist about ways to keep your mouth hydrated between dental visits. Without question, your dentist is your greatest defense against the damaging effects of dry mouth and tooth decay.

With an emphasis on preventative care and patient education, Dr. Leia Porcaro at Grateful Dental enjoys helping patients understand what it takes to have a healthy smile that will last for years to come. If you are concerned about how a specific medication may be affecting your oral health, do not wait. Call Grateful Dental today.

Posted on behalf of Grateful Dental

2000 Powers Ferry Rd SE, #1, Marietta, GA 30067

Phone: (678) 593-2979