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Your dentist prescribes medications for many reasons. While some drugs are formulated to fight oral diseases, others are used to prevent infections after surgical procedures such as tooth extractions and gum surgery. Certain drugs are used prior to dental treatment. These medications are used to help fight infections and also to control existing conditions such as heart murmurs and valve problems. Your dentist will discuss with you what medications you will be taking, when you will take them and why.
What should I find out about my medication?
Ask your dentist what you should look for after you've begun treatment. Ask about common side effects and what you should do if you experience them. Also ask about anything you should not take with the new drug, since the drug may interact with other prescription and over-the-counter medications and with certain foods. Ask your pharmacist any additional questions you did not ask the dentist. If you get a medication that looks different from the one you have been taking, speak up immediately.
When your dentist writes a new prescription, keep a record noting the brand name, generic name, the purpose, the dosage, how many times per day the drug should be taken and for how long. Every prescription dispensed by a pharmacist comes with a patient information sheet describing everything you need to know about the drug. Read the sheet before beginning your prescription, and read it each time before you take the drug. If you take several medications, keep a diary to check your daily intake and note any symptoms.
How do I know if I am experiencing a side effect or an allergic reaction to medication?
Some patients are allergic to certain drugs and can experience side effects that range from mild irritations, such as rashes, to more serious problems, such as breathing difficulties. Fortunately, fewer than 5 percent of allergic reactions are life-threatening. An allergic reaction is the result of an overreaction in your body's immune system, which fights what it perceives to be a foreign substance.
Not all side effects are allergy-related and can occur regardless of your body's disposition toward them. By and large, these side effects are rare and are expected by the drug's manufacturer. Depending on the drug, some side affects may include nausea, drowsiness or headaches. Your dentist may be able to lower the dosage or change the drug's formula to reduce or eliminate these side effects. It is important to discuss side effects with your dentist or pharmacist to determine if you are suffering from an allergic reaction or not. Don't discontinue a medication without talking with your dentist first. This could prolong the healing process.
What should my dentist know about my medical history?
It is important to share with your dentist your medical history and the medications you are taking, especially for serious conditions such as kidney, lung, heart or liver disease. Some dental medications have the potential to interact with other drugs and cause you harm or treatment failure.
Don't assume your dentist knows your medical history. The most common cause of drug -related interactions is the doctor's lack of information about your medical history. Update and review your history every time you see the dentist. In addition to informing your dentist of past prescriptions, tell him or her about any adverse reactions. Include any vitamins, supplements or herbal remedies you take on the list, as well as any diet plans.
What else should I know about my prescription?
When taking any medication prescribed by your dentist it is important to finish it. Many people take prescribed medicine, especially antibiotics, only until they feel better. Dosages are exact and are necessary to fight or prevent infections. By taking medication only until you feel better, all the drug has done is eliminate susceptible microorganisms and left the ones that tend to become drug-resistant. Ask your dentist before you take any non-prescription medications, vitamins, herbal remedies or dietary supplements. If you don't feel well after taking a medication, consult your dentist or pharmacist.
Reviewed: January 2012
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