People who need lifesaving medications learn to deal with a few unpleasant side effects. High blood pressure medications are needed to keep the heart from being stressed. These types of medications, as well as other calcium channel blockers, can have a devastating impact on the health of your mouth.
An Overgrowth of Gum Tissue
Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) help to ease blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. This helps blood to circulate with less pressure being placed on the heart. CCBs can, however, lead to an overgrowth of the gums. Gums may also tend to become very lumpy, thick and uneven. As the gum tissue expands and begins to cover the teeth, it can make it very difficult to properly chew your food. Cleaning the teeth also becomes difficult and can result in cavities or abscesses.
An increased amount of gum tissue is not the only side effect of high blood pressure medications. Dry mouth is also common. CCBs can reduce the amount of saliva that is produced, limiting its natural flow and drying out tissues in the mouth and throat. Without the continuous flow of saliva, bad breath and gum disease can begin to take over the mouth. As the tissues in the mouth continue to dry out, less saliva is available to help break down food and begin the digestion process. A decrease in saliva also allows food particles and debris to build up around the teeth.
If you experience dry mouth as a side effect of one of your medications, there are a few things you can do to alleviate the discomfort associated with it. They include:
- Run a humidifier when you sleep
- Chew gum or suck on small candies (sugarless is best)
- Drink plenty of water
- Eliminate beverages that contain caffeine
- Try not to eat foods that are too salty or spicy
Talk to your doctor if your symptoms become too uncomfortable.
Blood-thinning medications like aspirin, Coumadin, and other anticoagulants can increase the risk of your gums bleeding when you brush your teeth or eat chewy foods. They can also lead to excessive bleeding during various types of oral surgery or other procedures that are minimally invasive. High blood pressure medications can lead to soft tissue reactions in the gum that result in abnormal bleeding, swelling and soreness.
Proper Oral Health
One of the best ways to control some of the adverse reactions is to take proper care of your mouth. Brush and floss your teeth regularly, but use a soft bristled brush that will not be overly abrasive to the teeth and gums. Use a mouthwash that is approved by the American Dental Association. A mouthwash can work its way in between teeth where a brush may have difficulty reaching.
Taking care to keep the mouth, gums, and teeth clean may help to prevent cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues that may arise from the use of lifesaving medications. Always draw your dentist’s attention to any problems you may be experiencing when you go in for your regular dental check-ups. Problems can be addressed much sooner and a solution can be found before your gums and teeth end up damaged.
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