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    Oral Side Effects of Medications

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    Mouth Sores (Ulcers)

    A mouth ulcer refers to an open (ulcerated) sore that occurs inside the mouth or on the tongue. Mouth ulcers are often compared to "craters" because they have a hole in the middle. This hole is actually a break in the moist tissue (mucous membrane) that lines the mouth. Mouth sores may also be called canker sores.

    Chemotherapy drugs that cause mucositis can cause mouth sores to develop. Such drugs include:

    • alemtuzumab (Campath)
    • bleomycin (Blenoxane)
    • capecitabine (Xeloda)
    • cetuximab (Erbitux)
    • docetaxel (Taxotere)
    • doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
    • epirubicin (Ellence)
    • erlotinib (Tarceva)
    • fluorouracil (5-FU)
    • methotrexate (Rheumatrex)
    • sunitinib (Sutent)
    • vincristine (Oncovin)

    Other medicines that have been linked to the development of mouth sores include:

    • Aspirin
    • Gold used to treat rheumatoid arthritis
    • Penicillin
    • Phenytoin
    • Sulfonamides
    • Streptomycin

    Taste Changes, Including Metallic Taste

    Sometimes, a medication 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.

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    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

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    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.

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