Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Oral Care

Select An Article
Font Size

Oral Side Effects of Medications

(continued)

Taste Changes, Including Metallic Taste

Sometimes, a medication you take can alter your sense of taste. A change in the body's ability to sense tastes is called dysgeusia. Some drugs can make food taste different, or they can cause a metallic, salty, or bitter taste in your mouth. Taste changes are especially common among elderly patients who take multiple medications.

Usually the taste changes are temporary and go away when you stop taking the medicine.

Chemotherapy drugs, including methotrexate and doxorubicin, are a common cause of taste changes.

Many other medicines have been linked to taste changes. They include:

Allergy (antihistamine) medicines

  • chlorpheniramine maleate

Antibiotics

  • ampicillin
  • bleomycin
  • cefamandole
  • levofloxacin (Levaquin)
  • lincomycin
  • tetracyclines

Antifungals

  • amphotericin B
  • griseofulvin
  • metronidazole

Antipsychotics

  • lithium
  • trifluoperazine

Asthma medicines

  • bamifylline

Bisphosphonates

  • etidronate

Blood pressure medications

  • captopril, an ACE inhibitor
  • diltiazem, a calcium channel blocker
  • enalapril, an ACE inhibitor

Blood thinners

  • dipyridamole

Cholesterol-lowering drugs

  • clofibrate

Corticosteroids (used to treat inflammation)

  • dexamethasone (DMSO)
  • hydrocortisone

Diabetes medications

  • glipizide

Diuretics

  • amiloride
  • ethacrynic acid

Glaucoma medications

  • Acetazolamide

Gout medications

  • allopurinol
  • colchicine

Heart medications

  • nitroglycerin patch

Iron-deficiency anemia medications

  • iron sorbitex (given by injection)

Muscle relaxers

  • baclofen
  • chlormezanone

Parkinson's disease medications

  • levodopa

Rheumatoid arthritis treatments

  • gold

Seizure medications

  • carbamazepine
  • phenytoin

Thyroid medicines

  • carbimazole
  • methimazole

Transplant rejection drugs

  • azathioprine

Tuberculosis medications

  • ethambutol

Smoking cessation products

  • nicotine skin patch

Stimulants

  • amphetamine

Tooth Decay

Long-term use of sweetened medications can lead to tooth decay. Sugar is an added ingredient in many types of drug products, from vitamins and cough drops to antacids and syrup-based medications. Rinse your mouth out after using such products, or ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is a sugar-free alternative.

Tooth Discoloration

In the 1950s, doctors discovered that the use of tetracycline antibiotics during pregnancy led to brownish-color teeth in children. When a person takes tetracycline, some of the medicine settles into the calcium that the body uses to build teeth. When the teeth grow in, they are a yellowish-color, and they gradually turn brown when exposed to sunlight.

Tetracycline, however, does not cause tooth discoloration if taken after all teeth are formed. It only causes a change in tooth color if you take it the medicine before the primary or secondary teeth come in.

Today, tetracycline and related antibiotics are not recommended during pregnancy or in young children (under age 8) whose teeth are still forming.

Other medicines are believed to affect materials in or on existing teeth, causing staining.

The following medicines can cause brown, yellow-brown, or gray tooth discoloration:

  • amoxicillin-clavulanate (Augmentin), an antibiotic used to treat a number of bacterial infections
  • chlorhexidine, an antiseptic/disinfectant
  • doxycycline, an antibiotic related to tetracycline often used to treat acne
  • tetracycline, an antibiotic used to treat acne and some respiratory infections

Too much fluoride (found in some chewable vitamins, toothpastes, and mouthwash) can lead to white streaks on the tooth enamel, or a whitish-brown discoloration. In severe cases, excess fluoride (called fluorosis) can lead to permanently stained brown teeth.

WebMD Medical Reference

Next Article:

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

Get the latest Oral Health newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

big smile
Article
Man grinding teeth
Article
 
Is Diabetes Affecting Your Mouth
Tool
how your mouth impacts your health
Slideshow
 

are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
bpa dental sealants
Video
 
Healthy Mouth Slideshow
Video
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 

15 myths and facts about cavities
Video
how healthy is your mouth
Video
 
elmo brushing teeth
fitVideo
5 ways to prevent diabetes dental problems
Video
 

WebMD Special Sections