During the past decade there has been a significant increase in the number of people taking prescription medications. A recent study by Mayo Clinic and Olmstead Medical Center researchers states that nearly 70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug regularly—and more than half of those take two prescription medications or more. Twenty percent of all patients take five or more prescription medications, according to the findings published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.1

The five most commonly prescribed classes of medications are antibiotics (17%), antidepressants (13%), opioids (13%), lipid-reducers (11%), and vaccines (11%). Women and older adults receive more prescriptions than men and younger persons; people younger than nineteen are most commonly prescribed vaccines, antibiotics and asthma medications.1

While all medications have potential side effects, over 400 drugs (spanning nearly every class) list potential adverse oral side effects such as dry mouth,gingivitis and canker sores.2 According to the manufacturers of these medications, dental problems can occur as a result of taking the following classes of drugs:

  • Antihistamines
  • Chemotherapy medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Seizure medications
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Narcotic pain relievers
  • Antipsychotics
  • Lung inhalers
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Heart medications
  • Acne medications
  • Anti-nausea medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Diabetes medications
  • Blood thinners
  • Statins
  • Rheumatoid arthritis medications
  • Thyroid medications
  • Stimulants

If you are taking a medication that may have an adverse affect on your oral health, you can reduce the potential for future periodontal disease treatment by taking a few simple precautions.

Take the time to carefully read the information supplied by the pharmacy with your prescriptions, and if you are taking any drugs that have potential negative oral side effects, talk with your pharmacist and your dentist about ways to minimize them. Some of the most common oral problems associated with medications are:

Dry mouth

Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth is a medical condition that carries the highest risk of developing adverse oral health problems. Because saliva is necessary for keeping teeth clean and preventing plaque buildup, if the amount of saliva in the mouth decreases, the risk for oral irritation and gum inflammation increases. Dry mouth also raises the risk of developing cavities and gum disease. To help alleviate the discomfort of dry mouth, choose gentle oral care options such as natural toothpaste and alcohol-free mouthwash. Sugarless gum and artificial saliva products can help relieve discomfort and possible damage to teeth and gums.3 In addition, the botanical extracts used in natural oral care products provide hydration to help soothe and condition sensitive oral tissue.  

Fungal Infection

Certain steroidal inhalers used in the treatment of chronic asthma can encourage the growth of yeast in the mouth, a condition known as oral candidiasis. Rinsing the mouth out with water or a natural oral rinse after using the inhaler can help prevent infection.

Gingival Overgrowth

This condition occurs when gum tissue becomes swollen to the point that it begins to grow over the teeth, thereby allowing harmful bacteria easier access to the underlying tooth structure. Practicing good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist can help reduce the chances of developing this condition.


A common side effect of chemotherapy, mucositis is an inflammation of the oral lining and digestive tract. It can result in mouth and tongue swelling, pain, bleeding and mouth sores. Sensitive mouths should avoid potential irritants such as alcohol, tobacco, and spicy foods. Oral care products containing harsh chemicals such as alcohol can exacerbate dryness;  toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) can increase the potential for canker sores. Choosing alcohol-free, SLS-free all natural oral care products can reduce the risk of developing mucositis.

Natural treatment for periodontal disease

Herbal remedies have been used in oral care regimens for centuries. Because they are as gentle as they are effective, choosing natural dental care products when taking medications is a great alternative. Dental Herb Company makes high quality oral care products from pure essential oils and organic herbal extracts. Each product in the system is designed to offer cleansing and therapeutic benefits without harsh chemicals.  For your convenience, all Dental Herb Company Truly Natural® professional strength products are now available for purchase online.  Avoid oral discomfort and gum disease by treating your mouth with the high quality care it deserves.


  1. “Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Take Prescription Drugs, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center Find.” Mayoclinic.org. Mayo Clinic, 19 June 2013. Web. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2013-rst/7543.html>.
  2. “Oral Side Effects of Medications.” WebMD.com. WebMD, n.d. Web. <http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/oral-side-effects-of-medications>.
  3. “Medications and Oral Health.” AAP Patient Page 2 (July-Aug. 2001): n. pag. Perio.org. American Academy of Periodontology. Web. <http://www.bradentonperio.com/Downloads/medication_and_oral_health.pdf>.