Do Antihistamines Cause Tooth Decay?

If you regularly take antihistamines and start to notice decay on your teeth, your dentist may tell you that your medication is part of the problem. How do antihistamines affect your teeth and how can you manage their effects?

Antihistamines and Dry Mouth

Antihistamines don't cause tooth decay directly; however, they may change the state of your oral health, leading to possible decay issues. One of the common side effects of antihistamines is a dry mouth. If your medication dries out your mouth, you can't produce as much saliva as you need. While you may think that this is just an irritating problem that you have to live with, a persistently dry mouth can also make your teeth more liable to decay.

Your mouth needs saliva to help keep your teeth healthy. For example, according to the Better Health Channel, saliva helps manage harmful bacteria and plaque that may otherwise cause problems with your teeth. If you don't produce enough saliva, your mouth isn't able to deal with bacteria and plaque, leaving room for them to attack your teeth and cause decay on them.

How to Manage a Dry Mouth

If your antihistamines make your mouth dry all the time, you can take steps to boost the saliva coming into your mouth. This will not only make your mouth feel better but may also minimise potential damage to your teeth.

You may be able to do this by making a few changes to the things you eat and drink. For example, the following tips may help encourage your saliva to flow more:

  • Eat more crunchy foods with a high water content such as apples and celery.
  • Consider adding more sauces, gravy or moist foods to your diet, especially if you are eating meals that would otherwise be dry.
  • Chew sugar free gum or suck sugar free sweets or lozenges between meals.

Tip: As well as finding ways to improve saliva flow, it's also important to avoid things that reduce it further. For example, smoking usually dries out your mouth, so it should be avoided. It's also a good idea to cut down on drinking alcohol and caffeinated drinks and eating salty foods, all of which can have dehydrating effects that may make your mouth even drier.

If these solutions don't help enough or if you feel you have a longer-term problem, talk to your dentist to find out if there are any suitable dental products that may help improve your mouth's dryness. For example, your dentist may recommend that you try the following saliva boosters:

  • Toothpastes, mouthwashes and gels designed for dry mouth syndrome.
  • Saliva substitute medications.