Oral health is an essential component of a person’s overall well-being and quality of life. However, the use of medicines can have side effects on oral health.

Many people are not aware of the impact that certain medicines can have on their teeth, gums and oral cavity in general. It is therefore important to understand these side effects and take preventive measures to maintain optimal oral health.

Due to external or internal factors, sometimes the ability of the organs to defend themselves or function normally can decrease.

That is why medication may be needed to optimize activities.

Medicines are substances that are used to influence a pathological condition with the aim of restoring health.

On the other hand, in addition to treating pathologies, medicines can also be used as adjuvants to optimize certain functions.

A medicine is composed of the following:

  • The active ingredient – is the substance intended to produce a metabolic or immunological effect to help optimize or restore impaired function. It is the basic substance that has a therapeutic effect.

  • Excipients – are adjuvant substances that have no therapeutic effect on the body. These components have no influence on the therapeutic qualities of the preparation. Their role is to maintain the chemical composition and help the active substance to pass where it is intended to act.

Whether they are of animal or plant origin, or whether they are produced industrially or synthetically, the vast majority of medicinal products are also accompanied by side-effects, which may occur with some frequency.

It is not a rule that medicines cause side-effects but, in order not to panic, the patient should consult the package leaflet to know what to do in case of side-effects.

Side effects of medicines that affect the oral cavity include:

  • Dry feeling of the mucous membranes – some medicines reduce salivary flow and as an effect, the mucous membranes become dry. This makes chewing, phonation and swallowing more difficult. Complications of dry mouth include cracks, ulcers and reddening of the skin.

Drugs that may cause this side effect are antihistamines, decongestants, analgesics, diuretics, antihypertensives or antidepressants.

  • Bleeding gums or gingivorrhagia – gums become inflamed, more sensitive and may bleed during brushing or even spontaneously. This can be caused by medicines whose active substance causes hypersensitivity reactions in the patient.

Before administering medicines, the package leaflet should be read to avoid unpleasant situations.

The patient must also specify each time if he or she is hypersensitive to certain substances, so that substitutes can be found for the medicine in question.

  • Staining or enamel changes – tetracycline is suspected of causing such changes if given to children under 10 years of age or to pregnant patients.

The enamel of children who have come into contact with this substance is yellow and porous.

Normal enamel is hard, made up of hydroxyapatite crystals which give it resistance to aggression. Enamel that has been exposed to tetracycline loses its hard substance, becomes more porous and thus more susceptible to bacterial attack and decay.

These are just some of the many side effects that can occur to a lesser or greater extent following oral administration of the drugs.

It is the patient’s duty to mention allergies to different substances to prevent situations where they suffer from the treatment.

  1. Medicines that can cause dry mouth:

A common side effect of many medications is xerostomia or dry mouth. This can be caused by medicines such as antidepressants, antihistamines, diuretics and some medicines used to treat high blood pressure. Dry mouth promotes the development of tooth decay because saliva plays a vital role in protecting tooth enamel and controlling the level of bacteria in the mouth. Therefore, people taking such medicines should pay close attention to oral hygiene and use specific products to moisturize the mouth.

  1. Drugs that can cause gum inflammation:

Certain medicines, such as anticonvulsants and immunosuppressive drugs, can cause gum inflammation or gingivitis. This is manifested by swelling and bleeding of the gums. If inflammation of the gums is not treated properly, it can develop into periodontitis, a more serious condition that can lead to tooth loss. Patients taking such medicines should pay particular attention to oral hygiene, use both toothbrush and floss regularly and visit their dentist for regular assessments.

  1. Medications that can affect the soft tissues of the oral cavity:

Some medications, such as corticosteroids given orally or inhaled, can cause oral candidiasis or fungal infections of the mouth. This is manifested by the appearance of whitish or reddish lesions on the tongue, soft palate or inside the cheeks. Patients taking such medicines should be aware of this possibility and seek medical advice if such symptoms occur.

  1. Drugs that can cause changes in the structure and coloring of teeth:

Certain medicines may have negative effects on the development of teeth or cause changes in their structure. For example, taking antibiotics such as tetracycline during the period of tooth formation (in childhood) can lead to permanent staining of the teeth, developing so-called yellow or brown teeth. This side effect can affect dental aesthetics and may require whitening or other cosmetic treatments.

  1. Drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding gums:

Certain drugs, such as anticoagulants and aspirin, may increase the risk of bleeding gums. These drugs thin the blood and can make the gums more sensitive and more prone to bleeding during brushing or flossing. It is important that patients taking such medications inform their dentist before any dental procedure to prevent complications and receive appropriate bleeding management recommendations.


It is essential to be aware of the side effects that medications can have on oral health and act accordingly.

Patients should inform their doctor and dentist about the medicines they are taking and receive advice and instructions on appropriate oral care.

In addition, rigorous oral hygiene, including regular tooth brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist, is essential for maintaining oral health despite the side effects of medicines. By being aware of and properly managing these side effects, we can ensure optimal oral health and a good quality of life.

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