Parish Nurse Corner

Our parish nurse Jan Sandos provides us with a monthly column keeping us informed of pertinent medical information.

Matthew 13:34b—“For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”



 Taking care of your mouth does more than help your smile.  There is a significant link between your oral health and overall health, and it is important to understand how medications can play a role in our mouth’s well being.  Some medications can cause health complications that range from abnormal bleeding, to enlarged gums, to dry mouth and infections.

Abnormal Bleeding:  Medications are used to help prevent blood clots and reduce the risks of serious health problems such as strokes and heart attacks.  These medications can cause complications during dental procedures and surgeries.  It is important that all your physicians and dentists are aware of all prescription and over-the-counter medications that you use.

Enlargement of the Gums:  Enlargement of the gums is most often medication-induced.  Some anti-seizure medications, some calcium channel blockers commonly used to control blood pressure, and the immunosuppressant medication Cyclosporine, have all been linked to gum enlargement.  The exact cause is unknown, and not all people using these medications will experience this complication.

Dry Mouth:  Over 400 medications are known to cause dry mouth.  They include decongestants, antihistamines, high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and Parkinson’s disease medications.  The production of saliva protects our teeth from the harsh acids of our diet, and provides antibodies to protect our mouth from infections.  When medications decrease saliva production, people are likely to experience difficulty with chewing and swallowing, increased risk of tooth decay and cavities, and changes in taste.  To help alleviate dry mouth, your doctor may change some of your medications or decrease the dose.  Saliva stimulation products or saliva substitutes are available over-the-counter as solutions, sprays, or gels.  These may give some temporary relief for dry mouth.  Sipping water or sugar-free drinks throughout the day can also help moisten the mouth.  Reducing caffeine and alcohol helps, as does eliminating tobacco products.

Infections:  Oral thrush occurs when a fungal organism that is normally found in the mouth, overgrows and accumulates on the lining of the mouth.  Disease or certain medications may contribute to this overgrowth.  Immunosuppressant medications, antibiotics, and inhaled cortisteroids used to treat asthma or COPD can cause an imbalance and lead to infection.  If oral thrush does occur, your doctor or dentist may prescribe antifungal lozenges or liquids to treat the infection.

From Healthy Living Made Simple



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