On topic with Dr. Dill: Your medicine may damage your smile.

The medicine you take to help fix one health problem may also pose risks to your oral health.

One of the most common side effects listed on both prescription and over-the-counter medicine is dry mouth. In fact, more than 500 medications can cause dry mouth,1 including those taken for allergies, asthma, anxiety and depression.

Dry mouth can be more than uncomfortable. It can increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease and mouth infection. That’s because saliva is your body’s best defense against these issues. To temporarily relieve dryness, try drinking more water and chewing sugar-free gum.

But dry mouth may not be the only problem you’re experiencing.

Other oral side effects of medication include:

• Canker sores or cold sores

• Swelling of your gums

• A metallic, salty or bitter taste

• Tooth decay from sugar in some medicine

• Staining of your teeth

If you experience adverse side effects — such as severe dry mouth — check with your physician, who may be able to prescribe a different medicine for you. The likelihood of these side effects increases if you take multiple medications, are undergoing chemotherapy or recently had an organ transplant (see our oral health and transplants article for more).

Be sure to talk with your dentist about what’s going on with your health, including what medications you are taking. That way, you can work together to ease the side effects of medication and protect your smile.

Meet Delta Dental’s Vice President of Dental Science and Network Strategy, Joseph Dill, DDS. With more than 30 years of experience in the dental field, including eight in private practice and 16 in dental insurance, Dr. Dill provides expert insights and helpful advice to keep you smiling bright.