The Importance of the Medication History in Oral Healthcare

Eric T. Stoopler, DMD


September 03, 2015


The US Surgeon General's Report on Oral Health emphasized the importance of oral health and its essential role in overall general health. It also highlighted the need for interdisciplinary care between physicians and dentists to manage the oral health–general health interface.[4] The report stated that many prescription medications commonly used to treat systemic conditions adversely affect the oral cavity and that oral complications of these therapies can compromise patient compliance with treatment.[4] The results of this study demonstrate the high percentage of dental patients using both prescription and nonprescription medications.

Although the results should not be surprising in regard to the frequent use of medications to manage cardiovascular diseases and endocrine disorders (eg, diabetes), clinicians should be aware that psychiatric medications were among the most commonly prescribed medications in this cohort. These medications have the potential to cause or exacerbate preexisting oral conditions (eg, dry mouth, lichenoid mucositis)[5] or interact with medications commonly prescribed in dentistry (eg, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs interacting with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).[6]

It also emphasizes the need for oral healthcare providers to be familiar with nonprescription and OTC medications because these have the potential for adverse interactions with prescription medications due to altered pharmacodynamics (eg, Ginkgo biloba with warfarin can increase the risk of bleeding).[7]

Limitations of this study include the self-reported nature of information from patients, possible inaccurate representation of medication information for general dentistry patients, and inability to generalize results geographically owing to highly variable prescribing practices throughout the world. Nonetheless, this study supports the importance of medicine and pharmacology in dental and continuing education to enable dental professionals to provide optimal oral healthcare for an increasing medically complex patient population.



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