When you visit your dentist, he or she will commonly ask you a variety of health-related questions at the start of your appointment. Many of these questions will relate to the health of your teeth, but many will not. There may be a part of you that thinks these questions may be unimportant to answer correctly, but this is not the case. One such question is whether you're taking any new medications. The dentist doesn't just ask you this question because he or she is curious; certain types of medication can affect the health of your mouth in several ways. Here are some relevant examples.
Drying Out Your Mouth
A variety of medications can cause you to experience a dry mouth. Your doctor may have explained this potential side effect when prescribing the medication for you, or you may have noticed it yourself. For example, if you're taking drugs to deal with such health issues as anxiety or asthma, a dry mouth might be the by-product. It's important to divulge this medication to your dentist because a mouth that stays too dry can encourage bacteria to grow. In this scenario, your dentist will likely advise certain lifestyle tips that you can use to keep your mouth moist.
Some medications can also increase the amount that you bleed when you sustain an injury. Medications that are designed to thin your blood—which you may be taking if your doctor believes that you're at risk of a stroke, or if you have a blood clot somewhere in your body—can cause heavy bleeding from even a small cut. Your dentist especially needs to know if heavy bleeding is likely if he or she going to perform a procedure on you such as a tooth extraction, but even if your hygienist is just going to thoroughly floss your teeth, this information needs to be evident.
You may value having a set of pearly white teeth, but the medication that you're on could compromise this look. There is evidence that certain antibiotics can affect the color of your teeth, so it's important to share the names of any antibiotics that you've been prescribed when you're speaking with your dentist. He or she may ask you if you're interested in having your teeth whitened once you're no longer taking these drugs. If you're interested, your dentist can discuss various whitening methods that he or she can offer.