Drugs and Your Oral Health

Dr. Lina Garcia, D.D.S.,D.M.D.

This article first appeared on mercola.com on June 23, 2004.
Medications have side effects that can affect your oral health. Side effects that may cause permanent consequences to the human being occur because drugs are not specific in their actions. Medications and drugs do not exclusively go to the cells that are involved in the problem–instead they go to tissues, blood, lymph, all cells and organs of the whole body, metastasizing side effects to the whole system.

For instance, an antidepressant could help people to improve their moods because of its doping affects, which are similar to cocaine and marijuana. The only difference is that one is sold legally by pharmaceutical companies and the other by illegal sources. But the side effects and addictive properties are very similar. Examples of the similarities include insomnia, suicidal ideation, loss or gain of sex drive, dry mouth and alteration in moods.

There are many drugs that can cause serious side effects that alter your oral health. Some of these effects include:

* Dry mouth
* Permanent tooth discoloration
* Gingival hyperplasia
* Oral lesions
* Abnormal bleeding
* Jaw clenching
* Teeth grinding

Dry Mouth: This can be caused by common antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory drugs and narcotics in addition to drugs used for glaucoma and bladder spasms and urinary retention as well as antihypertensives. When the mouth is chronically dry, the teeth, oral mucosa and soft tissue are easily inflamed, painful and prone to infection. This environment commonly leads to tooth decay and necrosis of the nerves innervating the teeth.

Tooth Discoloration: This is a common side effect of some antibiotics.

Gingival Hyperplasia: This is a condition defined as overgrowth of the gum tissue. It is commonly caused by seizure medications, heart medications, medications for high blood pressure and immunosuppressant medications.

Oral Lesions: This is defined as soft tissue discoloration and inflammation. This can be caused by drugs used for blood pressure, immunosuppressants, oral contraceptives and chemotherapy drugs.

Abnormal Bleeding: This can be caused by drugs such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), steroids and anticoagulants, which are used to thin the blood in common conditions associated with strokes and certain diseases associated with the heart and arrhythmias.

Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding: These can be side effects of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. A diet rich in sugars and sugar-forming foods cultivate the growth of parasites, viruses and bacteria. This affects our metabolism and stimulates the nervous system causing it to be “over charged” and resulting in the clinging and grinding of the jaw.

Drugs Demand More Drugs

Drugs that are prescribed for certain symptoms and diseases commonly cause side effects–this we have established. As though this weren’t enough, those side effects are often treated with other drugs to counteract the initial side effects. Thus, the cycle goes on and on with more drugs being needed to counteract each other and eventually a break down of the body and mind occurs–culminating in:

* Disease
* Disorientation
* Poor digestion and assimilation of foods
* Poor quality of life
* Premature death

An example of these effects include the bleeding disorders, stomach ulcers, kidney and liver failure and anxiety that can occur from anti-inflammatory medication used for pain. Another example, cholesterol medications cause liver and kidney problems and have been associated with an increase in dramatic deaths such as suicide and murders. The same can occur with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.

Antibiotics are a double-edged sword in that they not only kill the bad bacteria, but they also kill the good in addition to suppressing the immune system, which opens the body and the person to further disease.

The Mitochondria, which are called the “Powerhouse of the Cell” as they produce energy, are postulated to have evolved from bacteria and were once a single unique organism before it became part of the cell’s cytoplasm. The Mitochondrial Theory supports that the mitochondria inside the cells is similar or originated from a bacteria. If this possibility is true, then antibiotic therapy that is killing the bad bacteria is not only killing the good as stated above, but may also be exterminating the precious Mitochondria.

One Patient on 25 Drugs!

Hundreds of patients on several medications and medications for the medications come to our clinic looking for alternatives. Recently I saw a patient who was diagnosed with depression as a teenager that culminated in her being hospitalized for shock treatments. In the last three years her treatment has been all symptomatically approached, and she is now on 25 different medications that include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, seizure medications prescribed for her moods and for headaches, antihistamines, oral contraceptives, antiinflammatories, anti-ulcer medication, an antipsychotic and three different asthma medications.

When I saw this case, I was in shock that someone could actually be taking all this medication at the age of 32. She was a very productive person in the society and simply suffered from an emotional breakdown. She followed up with the traditional system, which included a psychiatrist, primary care physician and a neurologist who just kept prescribing. One medication alone can have as many as 25 side effects or more–just imagine what 25 drugs can do. Twenty-five times 25! This does not even take into consideration drug interactions and the side effects of those drugs.

Alternative Solutions

Health arises from a combination of several factors that include good nutrition, lifestyle changes, sound dental choices and alternative medical approaches such as Traditional Osteopathic Treatment. All of these work from a place of health that focuses on the whole patient, the mind, the body and the spirit. We Do Not work from a place of symptoms!

Nutrition is the basis for good health. Sound dental choices that include the use of biological dentistry that properly employs choices of materials, anesthetics and procedures that synchronize with the whole patient are also important. From a treatment perspective, Traditional Osteopathic Treatment is an excellent approach that utilizes a unique hands-on technique from a place of health.

We also need to be aware and educated about the impact of environmental stimuli such as power lines, cellular towers, excessive noise, pollution and other electromagnetic interference. Finally, we need to educate our patients to practice some form of meditation to have a better awareness of their mind, body and souls. This creates better balance and allows us to make sound choices. Mild exercise that does not put too much compression on the body, such as walking, swimming, stretching, Tai Chi, etc., are great ways to our health as well.


Nutrition plays an integral role in not only your dental health, but also in your health overall. My approach to nutrition requires discipline, eating organically grown and produced foods with no processed sugars and flours. A diet rich in raw vegetables, raw vegetable juices, dairy and animal proteins is a great basis. In addition, there are many nutritional plans and approaches out there; at the clinic we utilize a nutritional approach called metabolic typing, which is an efficient way for an individual to discover the foods that metabolize best for them and is unique for the individual.

With many nutritional plans, most individuals have difficulty abiding by them 100 percent of the time as they do not cater to each individual and their metabolic needs. Metabolic typing, on the other hand, caters to an individual’s needs and will leave you feeling satisfied, not hungry or craving unhealthy foods.

The typical American diet is rich in processed foods, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, and high in sugars and simple carbohydrates. This diet is surely one of the worst diets in the world. Obesity and diabetes are running rampant in our society and are directly a result of our poor diets. Our children are feasting on foods with psychedelic colors and numerous preservatives, sugar-enriched sodas, and processed breads and pastas, not to mention all the fast foods.

These foods have contributed to terrible dental decay and gum diseases in addition to severe medical problems that lead to both chronic and terminal abnormalities.

Dr. Mercola’s books and Web site have contributed a great deal toward nutrition and alternative medical truths, but there is still work to be done.


Similar to nutrition, lifestyle also plays an integral role in a person’s health and well-being. The way an individual conducts their life, the activities that they are involved in, whether or not they practice some type of meditation, and how well they sleep are all integral parts of their health.

Exercise, when utilized properly, promotes flexibility and strength, stimulates lymphatic and venous drainage, increases our stamina and helps relieve stress. Meditation and relaxation are a very important part of balancing the nervous and immune systems. Steady practice helps to cultivate an optimal place of health in addition to creating the optimal environment of recovery from illness to a place of recovery and health.

Transcendental meditation has been my personal choice, but in general any practice that calms the mind down and allows the system to breath and the soul to express itself supports healing as a whole.

Physicians, dentists and various practitioners should be committed to treating patients in a holistic way. Human beings have different parts to themselves, which include the mind, the body and the spirit. True holistic practice looks at all of these parts and treats the individual from a place of health, not symptoms.

Reading and educating oneself with good books and books on tape are great support systems of a healthy lifestyle. My personal preferences throughout the years have included authors such as Deepok Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer and many others.

Finally, and most importantly, we need around eight hours of sleep a night to recharge our batteries. This is essential to help our bodies to regenerate and to stay healthy.

A healthy lifestyle that includes all of the above will support health and well-being especially in challenging times. Medications should not be the first choice in times of need. We must look at the whole and not the symptoms.

In Practice

In my practice, environmental dentistry, traditional osteopathic treatment and nutrition are our main resources of treatment. In addition, we promote and guide our patients toward living a healthy lifestyle. As I mentioned earlier, it is common that when patients come to our practice, they are taking several medications. We work efficiently in a holistic way to successfully wean them off these medications. In addition, we reeducate our patients on making better choices. Following the above paradigm will create better possibilities toward our health and ability to heal.

Thanks to Dr. Grasso for his medical support in this article. Back to Articles Page

Doctor Lina Garcia
Holistic Dentistry for Total Health
(847) 426 – 9000

Listen to our interview with Dr. Garcia

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