Today, most people think of “medications” as part of life. When a child has a headache, Mom may hand out a medication to make it “go away”. It seems so simple and available, but the scary thing is that most people have no idea how these products work or the side effects they can produce.
Hunt for the Answer:
When your grandmother was a child, antibiotics were probably not available and treatment for a headache was often a cup of tea. As a newly graduated dentist in the 1970s we began to realize some medications could affect the development of teeth. Medications taken by a child can have an effect on adult teeth developing in the jaw either damaging enamel or changing tooth color. Tetracycline is an antibiotic that produces dramatic color changes – making teeth brown, black or blue. This stain is almost impossible to improve with “color changing” bleaches. Mostly teeth end up being crowned or covered with veneers.
The other harmful effect of medications can occur at any age. Side effects of many medications is dry mouth – a condition known as xerostomia. Mouth dryness damages the natural protein covering that coats teeth, and in this way they loose their natural defense against cavities and erosion.
When a child has allergies or asthma, medications may be targeted to help a breathing problem, but parents should be aware that suddenly this child may be at great risk for dental problems. Adults of any age become prone to dry mouth as a side effect from hundreds of medications prescribed today. Mouth dryness gives harmful bacteria a better opportunity to grow and multiply, and any acidity in the diet or poor general health make dental problems worse.
The addition of xylitol to a daily routine can prevent cavities forming and stop dry mouth from causing all this damage. Adults and children benefit from xylitol and many may also want to consider Probiotics and mineral supplements to fight this battle for oral health.
Allowing teeth to deteriorate at any time is sad, especially when preventive measures are so simple and effective. Poor oral health is never beneficial, but it can have catastrophic general health implications (sometimes life threatening) for someone who is at risk for heart attack, stroke, or suffering diabetes, arthritis or gastric problems. The connection between oral health and body health has been clearly established and oral health should be one of the first things you consider as your doctor prescribes medications for you or someone you love.