If you have high blood pressure, it's important to let your dentist know about any medications you are taking. There are many drugs that can cause oral problems as a side effect, and blood pressure medications are among them. However, it helps to know what side effects to watch for. That way, if you notice problems with your oral health, your dentist can take steps to monitor and control any adverse side effects.
Medications your doctor prescribes to lower your blood pressure can cause your gums to swell and thicken. If you take calcium channel blockers to treat hypertension, overgrowth of the gums -- a condition known as gingival hyperplasia -- is a possible side effect.
Thick gums can cause numerous problems. For starters, gingival hyperplasia often leads to tooth decay and teeth shifting. The condition makes it harder for you to clean your teeth, particularly the spaces between your teeth. As a result, plaque accumulates more easily. Dental plaque that builds up around your teeth and under your gum line can cause gum disease. Gingival hyperplasia may also make it difficult to chew food.
Normally, stopping the medication that's causing the side effect will stop gum overgrowth. But if you need to continue taking the medication, good oral hygiene and antibiotics to control bacterial overgrowth can help improve the condition. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to remove excessive gum tissue.
Blood pressure and heart medications that cause dry mouth as a side effect include ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics, and calcium channel blockers. These drugs cause dry mouth by reducing saliva flow in your mouth. Your gums become irritated and inflamed, increasing your risk of infection and gum disease.
Dry mouth can make it hard to chew and swallow. This medication side effect may make it difficult to wear dentures or make you more prone to tooth decay. Not having enough saliva can also cause sores and fungal infections in the mouth.
If side effects persist or become severe, don't stop taking your blood pressure medicine without first talking to your doctor. Your doctor may adjust the dosage or change you to another medication. But even if you switch to a different medication, it may take months before your gums return to normal size. Your doctor may also prescribe a medication to stimulate saliva production.
Since you are at higher risk of getting cavities, your dentist may fit you for fluoride trays. Follow your dentist's directions and use the trays once or twice each day after brushing and flossing. Use involves filling the trays with a fluoride gel and then placing the trays on your teeth for a few minutes before removing.
If you notice a very sudden negative change in your oral health after starting a new blood pressure medication, you may need to visit an emergency dental clinic such as Rose City Dental Care to get the problem taken care of before it worsens and causes additional oral health issues.