Blood Pressure Medications and Your Oral Health

If you experience high blood pressure, it’s vital that you discuss possible medications with your health care professionals, including your dentist. Some blood pressure medications cause the usual variety of side effects, such as drowsiness, upset stomach, or minor aches. But for some patients, particular blood pressure medications may produce oral health side effects. This includes gingival hyperplasia, also known as the overgrowth of gum tissue.

Gum Overgrowth

Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are used to treat patients with high blood pressure or other heart conditions. They operate by widening the blood vessels, making it easier for the heart to pump blood. In some patients, though, this can cause a big change in gum tissue. Though only affecting a small percentage of people, the gum tissue may become thick and lumpy. It sometimes abnormally extends over the teeth, covering them slightly. Not only can this make you feel self-conscious in social situations, but gingival hyperplasia is uncomfortable and makes it difficult to chew food.

Furthermore, the overgrowth of gum tissue makes it very difficult for a toothbrush or floss to clean in between the teeth. It may also reduce the flow of saliva, which will not only cause dry mouth, but will also reduce the saliva’s natural protective effects on the teeth and gums. All this greatly affects oral hygiene and can lead to gum disease if the gingival hyperplasia is not treated promptly. Unfortunately, poor oral hygiene contributes to gum overgrowth, so this condition can easily get out of hand.

What can I do about my gum overgrowth?

Obviously, you can’t stop taking your blood pressure medication. So when you do experience side effects, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor and dentist. There are actually several ways to help control this condition:

  • Talk to your doctor about the possibility of changing the dose of your medication, or switching the medication altogether.
  • Non-surgical treatments, such as scaling and root planing, are foolproof ways to control gum overgrowth.
  • Typically, routine checkups and professional dental cleanings are twice a year. You may need to consider increasing your visits.
  • Proper brushing technique and the use of floss at home is incredibly important.

Are you struggling with gum overgrowth as a result of your blood pressure medication? Be sure to let your doctor and dentist know, as early treatment can prevent this condition from worsening.

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