If you have high blood pressure or a cardiac arrhythmia, your physician may have prescribed one or more cardiovascular medications to control your symptoms and decrease your risk for heart attack and stroke. While these medications can cause side effects such as fatigue, dizziness, exercise intolerance, and gastrointestinal problems, they can also lead to oral problems. Here are two cardiovascular drugs to discuss with your dentist:
Beta blocker medications such as propranolol are used in the management of chest pain, a fast heart rate, and to lower blood pressure. Side effects of beta blockers include lightheadedness, weakness, fatigue, and dizziness. While these are the most common symptoms, oral abnormalities can also occur.
One of the most common oral side effects from beta blockers includes swollen and bleeding gums. These medications can cause changes in capillary function, including the capillaries in your gum tissue. If you take beta blockers, tell your dentist so that he or she can monitor your gums for excessive bleeding.
Also, because beta blockers can cause abnormal bleeding in other parts of your body, you may be susceptible to anemia. One of the most common oral manifestations of anemia is paleness of the gums. If pale gums are noticed during your oral examination, your dentist may refer you back to your physician.
He or she will order a complete blood count, or CBC, to determine if you have anemia. If you do, iron supplements may be recommended. Once your anemia has resolved, your gum paleness will resolve, and your gums will regain their normal pink color.
Diuretics are used to treat high blood pressure, edema of the extremities, and fluid around the heart. Also known as "water pills," diuretics can cause excessive urination, which can lead to dehydration. Not only can dehydration cause dizziness, weakness, and dry skin, it can also cause an extremely dry mouth.
If your mouth becomes too dry, oral bacteria will not be washed away, raising your risk for gum disease and cavities. If your dentist determines that your mouth is excessively dry, he or she may recommend that you use a moisturizing oral rinse to help reduce oral bacteria and keep you more comfortable when you eat, speak, and swallow.
If you take beta blockers or diuretics, talk to your dentist about potential oral side effects. The sooner side effects are recognized and treated, the less likely you will be to develop gum infections, cavities, dry mouth, and bleeding gums.