Drugs Used in Dentistry
Drugs to Control Plaque and Gingivitis
Chlorhexidine is an antibiotic drug used to control plaque and gingivitis in the mouth or in periodontal pockets (the space between your gum and tooth). The medication is available as a mouth rinse and as a gelatin-filled chip that is placed in the deep gum pockets next to your teeth after root planing. The drug in the gelatin-filled chip is released slowly over about seven days. Dental products containing this antibacterial are marketed under various prescription-only brand names, such as Peridex, PerioChip, and PerioGard, as well as other over-the-counter trade names.
Note: Chlorhexidine may cause an increase in tartar on your teeth. It may also cause staining of the tooth, tooth filling, and dentures or other mouth appliances. Brushing with a tartar-control toothpaste and flossing your teeth daily may help reduce this tartar build-up and staining. In addition, you should visit your dentist at least every six months to have your teeth cleaned and your gums examined. Be sure to tell your dentist if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or to skin disinfectants containing chlorhexidine.
Your dentist may recommend the use of an over-the-counter antiseptic mouth rinse product to reduce plaque and gingivitis and kill the germs that cause bad breath.
Drugs Used to Treat Periodontal Disease
The doxycycline periodontal system (marketed as Atridox) contains the antibiotic doxycycline and is used to help treat periodontal disease. Doxycycline works by preventing the growth of bacteria. Doxycycline periodontal system is placed by your dentist into deep gum pockets next to your teeth and dissolves naturally over seven days.
Note: Tell your dentist if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to doxycycline or to other tetracyclines. Use of doxycycline periodontal system is not recommended during the last half of pregnancy or in infants and children up to 8 years of age because the product may cause permanent discoloration of teeth and slow down bone growth. Use of doxycycline periodontal system is not recommended, if breastfeeding, since doxycycline passes into breast milk. This class of drugs also may decrease the effectiveness of estrogen-containing birth control pills, increasing the chance of unwanted pregnancy.
Drugs Used to Prevent Tooth Decay
Fluoride is a drug used to prevent tooth decay. It is available on a nonprescription basis in many toothpastes. It is absorbed by teeth and helps strengthen teeth to resist acid and block the cavity-forming action of bacteria. As a varnish or a mouth rinse, fluoride helps reduce tooth sensitivity. Prescription-strength fluoride is available as a liquid, tablet, and chewable tablet to take by mouth. It usually is taken once daily. It is prescribed for children and adults whose homes have water that is not fluoridated (has not had fluoride added to water).
Note: Before taking fluoride, be sure to tell your dentist if you are allergic to fluoride, tartrazine (a yellow dye in some processed foods and drugs), or any other drugs. Do not take calcium, magnesium, or iron supplements while taking fluoride without checking with your dentist. Tell your dentist if you are on a low-sodium or sodium-free diet. Do not eat or drink dairy products one hour before or one hour after taking fluoride. Fluoride can cause staining of the teeth.