long term narcotic use=teeth problems???

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New Member

Date Joined Dec 2006
Total Posts : 19
   Posted 8/22/2008 12:04 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi there, I was wondering if anyone knows if being on narcotics for a long time causes teeth problems. I'm in my late 30s and have never had a cavity until a couple years ago. I've now had 5 in the last 2 years!! The only thing I can think of that might be causing this is the meds I take. I have RA and fibro and have been on many diferent drugs but the one drug that has been a constant has been narcotics for pain. If anyone knows anything about this I would greatly appreciate hearing from you! :-)
DX: fibromyalgia, arthritis, panic attacks, IBS
RX: Paxil, ultracet, baclofen, ativan (as needed) vicoden (for really bad flare ups)

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 256
   Posted 8/22/2008 4:06 PM (GMT -6)   
old wives' tale. nothing more.
Conditions: Reactive Arthralgia/Reactive Constellation, Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome, Sacroiliitis, Costochondritis, widespread Tendonitis, severe back pain & spasms with numerous spinal problems, barely able to type anymore due to severe full-body runaway inflammation, and on and on. Typical daily pain levels exceed 8.5(!)

Medications: Methadone, Dilaudid, Oxycodone, Marinol, Cesamet, Lidocaine Patches, Flexeril, Zanaflex, Soma, Desipramine; many herbs & supplements.

Previous medications: Oxycontin, Opana, Fentanyl patches, Kadian, Avinza, MS Contin, Lortab, OxyIR, Baclofen, Testosterone (oral, patches, gel), Cymbalta, Lyrica, Neurontin, Amitryptyline, every NSAID known to man, Prednisone....and many, MANY more.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 243
   Posted 8/22/2008 5:54 PM (GMT -6)   
Actually, it's not an old wives tale.

Narcotic medications are known to produce anticholinergic side effects. The one we hear the most about is constipation, but anticholinergic effects also include xerostomia -- that's the fancy word for decreased saliva production. Saliva has a protective property for teeth, so over time, the decrease in saliva can lead to an increase in the amount of bacteria we have in our mouths; therefore, we have an increased risk of decay and cavities. Just like any side effect from medication, some people experience dry mouth and some people don't; others may experience a slight reduction in saliva production, that isn't overtly problematic for them, but in the end it still reduces the protection of their teeth and can increase cavities and tooth decay.

Things that can help include drinking plenty of fluids, while avoiding high-sugar drinks; brush and floss frequently; use moisturizing rinses such as Biotene; chew sugarless gum, like Trident, or use sugarless hard candies to promote saliva production; and visit your dentist for cleanings/exams more frequently, so you can address problems in the early stages rather than finding out later you have a major problem.

Hope that helps! :-)

Post Edited (BionicWoman) : 8/22/2008 5:27:38 PM (GMT-6)

Becoming undone
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 927
   Posted 8/22/2008 7:50 PM (GMT -6)   
Some of the meds taken for RA, though you are not on them right now, can have bone issues as well (Steroids such as prednisone, entocort..etc). Even some antibiotics...so it could be any or all. It could also be your diet changed, due to pain issues (can't cook as well, stomach doesn't handled certain foods as well). Even brushing teeth as often (too hard to stand, hold tooth brush like you used to, etc.)

My dentist gave me a sample of some pretty decent toothpaste (Pronamel), that has a lot of fluoride in it...Supposed to harden enamel. Tastes nasty, but has kept my teeth strong even with high dose prednisone.
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