Blood Pressure Medications & Your Gums
It is our goal to keep your mouth healthy, your teeth fully functional, and your smile bright — and we are proud of all the services we offer to do exactly that. At the same time, we want you to understand all that modern dentistry in general has to offer you. To that end, we have assembled a first-rate dental library in which you can find a wealth of information on various dental topics, including:
It's never too early to get your child started on the path toward a lifetime of good oral health, and there are many services to do exactly that. Monitoring your child's dental growth and development, and preventing and intercepting dental diseases along the way, is the primary focus of pediatric dentistry. Read more about Pediatric Dentistry.
Oral health is an essential component of general health and well-being. Good oral health means a mouth that's free of disease; a bite that functions well enough for you to eat without pain and get ample nutrition; and a smile that lets you express your happiest emotions with confidence. Read more about Oral Health.
A major goal of modern dentistry is to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime. By following a conscientious program of oral hygiene at home, and coming to the dental office for routine cleanings and exams, you have the best chance of making this goal a reality. Read more about Oral Hygiene.
When you have a dental emergency — whether it's caused by a sudden accident or chronic disease — your teeth and/or the tissues of the mouth that surround them need to receive proper care right away. It's also important to be aware, before you're actually in the situation, of what you can do to ensure the best outcome. Read more about Emergency Dental Care.
The word “surgery” often brings to mind a stay in the hospital, general anesthesia, and perhaps a lengthy recovery period. However, the experience of having oral surgery is usually very different from that. Some common oral surgery procedures include: tooth extractions, dental implant placement, and biopsies of suspicious oral lesions. Read more about Oral Surgery.
Adults and kids alike can benefit from the boost in self-confidence that comes from having a great-looking smile with beautifully aligned teeth. Orthodontic treatment can even improve chewing, speaking and oral hygiene in certain cases. And with today's virtually invisible orthodontic appliances, it's possible to keep your treatment a private matter… until your new smile is unveiled, of course! Read more about Orthodontics.
If you want to keep your teeth for life — a completely reasonable goal in this day and age — you need to make sure the tissues that surround them are also healthy. Should gum problems arise, you may need periodontal therapy to restore diseased tissues to health. Read more about Periodontal Therapy.
Before prescribing any medications — even lifesaving ones, such as those used to reduce blood pressure or prevent epileptic seizures — your health care professionals carefully weigh the benefits a drug offers against the possible risks of taking it, including its potential side effects. In most cases, the side effects are relatively slight: for example, drowsiness, an upset stomach, or minor aches. But in some individuals, particular drugs may produce side effects that are more troublesome.
This is sometimes the case with a class of drugs called calcium channel blockers (CCBs), which are commonly used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) and certain other heart conditions. Some people who take these medications experience a condition called gingival hyperplasia, or an overgrowth of gum tissue. This effect has also been seen in some epileptics who take an anti-seizure medication called phenytoin.
Possible Side Effects
CCBs work by dilating (widening) the blood vessels, which makes it easier for the heart to pump blood. But in a small percentage of people, they also cause changes in the gums. Gum tissue may become thick and lumpy, and it may sometimes extend abnormally and start to cover the teeth. This change in appearance can cause social embarrassment, as well as discomfort and difficulty in chewing.
The overgrowth of gum tissue also makes it difficult or impossible to clean the spaces between teeth. This can cause a rapid deterioration in oral hygiene that may lead to full-blown gum disease if not treated promptly. And since poor oral hygiene is itself a contributing factor in gum overgrowth, the condition can easily spiral out of control.
In addition, some CCBs also reduce saliva flow. This may not only cause the mouth to feel dry, but may also severely reduce saliva's protective effects on the teeth and gums.
What To Do About Gum Overgrowth
It's always a good idea to tell your health care providers about any side effects you may be experiencing as soon as you notice them. However, even though gum tissue overgrowth may be a worrisome issue, it doesn't mean you should stop taking your blood pressure medication! There are several options for controlling this condition, which should be discussed with all members of your medical team.
With your doctor's consent, it may be possible for you to change your dosage or switch to a different blood pressure medication that produces fewer side effects. It can take a few months for your gums to return to normal after the change, while you are maintaining good oral hygiene at home. But even if it's not possible for you to change your medication, there are a number of in-office treatments that can be used to help alleviate the problem.
Non-surgical treatments like scaling and root planing (a type of deep cleaning) are sometimes the first step to controlling gum overgrowth. These relatively minor procedures can dramatically improve your overall oral hygiene. If necessary, they may be followed by surgical treatments to remove overgrown tissue and eliminate periodontitis — a serious condition which, if left untreated, could result in tooth loss.
In addition to regular dental cleanings, you will need to be extra vigilant at home: proper brushing technique and the use of interdental cleaners (such as floss) are needed to clean the spaces between teeth is a must. Your progress will be monitored at follow-up dental visits as needed.
While gum tissue overgrowth may seem a daunting problem, experience has shown that it can be successfully controlled by initial periodontal therapy, good at-home care, and frequent follow-up visits. Meanwhile, you should continue to follow all of your doctors' recommendations for maintaining a healthy blood pressure.