High BP and Oral Health

How Some Blood Pressure Medication Affects Oral Health

If you suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension), it’s possible that your doctor has prescribed you medication in the class of drugs called calcium channel blockers (CCBs). While these medications can be quite effective at lowering blood pressure, they unfortunately carry with them a series of side effects – some of which affect your oral health. If you fit into this category, you might wonder: what does this all mean in practical terms? Is there anything I can do about it?

Dental Side Effects of CCBs

Although CCBs are intended to work on other parts of your body, they can cause problems in your mouth. For example, they may reduce saliva flow. In addition to causing your mouth to feel dry, this hinders your saliva’s ability to protect the teeth and gums, making you more susceptible to oral infection and tooth decay. For example, saliva carries the calcium and phosphorus your enamel needs to rebuild itself throughout the day. With little saliva, your enamel can quickly start to erode.

Another issue is that some who take CCBs are known to build up excess gum tissue. This condition is called gingival hyperplasia, or gingival overgrowth. (This also occurs in some epileptic patients who take an anti-seizure medication called phenytoin.) Gums become thick and lumpy, extending abnormally over the teeth. Not only is this unattractive, it also causes discomfort and difficulty chewing.

Additionally, gingival overgrowth makes it difficult, sometimes impossible, to clean in between your teeth. This swollen gum tissue creates the perfect breeding ground for the bacteria that lead to gum disease. And since neglecting to floss also contributes to gum overgrowth, the condition quickly becomes a vicious cycle.

What If You Take CCBs?

Make sure to tell your dentist at the Yuba City Dentistry Group right away if you are taking CCBs, and especially if you begin to experience oral side effects. There are several options available to keep the situation controlled. Here are a few:

  • Change of medication or reduced dosage: since medications affect individuals’ bodies in different ways, your doctor may be able to prescribe another blood pressure medication that doesn’t give you these side effects. Or he may change your dosage to an amount that makes the situation manageable.
  • In-office treatment: non-surgical procedures such as scaling and root planing (a type of deep cleaning) can help control gum overgrowth and greatly improve overall oral hygiene. If periodontitis (a serious condition that could result in tooth loss) is present, your dentist may decide on surgical treatment to remove overgrown tissue and help save your teeth.
  • Proper home routine: using proper brushing technique, in addition to interdental cleaners such as floss, will play a large role in reducing gum overgrowth. Regular follow-up visits allow your dentist to monitor your progress.

Gum tissue overgrowth is an unpleasant situation, but following the steps above will keep it under control. Working together with your doctor, we’ll work hard to keep both your heart and teeth healthy and fit. For a consultation on blood pressure medications and your dental health, contact us via our website or call us at 530-803-4977.

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