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Taking Dental Medications

Why does my dentist prescribe medication for certain treatments?

Your dentist may prescribe medications to fight certain oral diseases or to prevent infections after surgical procedures such as tooth extractions and gum surgery. Sometimes certain drugs are given before the dental procedure to help fight infections or to control existing medical conditions such as heart murmurs and valve problems. Your dentist will discuss any medications you may need to take, when to take them, and why you need to take them.

What questions should I ask my dentist about any prescribed medication?

Ask your dentist or pharmacist the following for each prescribed medication:

  • What is the name of the medication?
  • Why do I need to take it?
  • How often should I take it?
  • What time of day should I take it?
  • Should I take it on an empty stomach or with meals?
  • Where should I store the medication?
  • What should I do if I forget to take a dose?
  • How long should I expect to take the medication?
  • How will I know it is working?
  • What common side effects should I expect?
  • Are there any rare but serious side effects to watch for?
  • Will the medication interfere with driving, working, or other activities?
  • Does the medication interact with any foods, alcohol, or other beverages, or other medications, vitamins, supplements, over-the-counter products, herbal products, or eye drops?

Review the medication information sheet that comes with each prescription. Write down any side effects you experience and call your dentist to discuss them. Update and review your history every time you see your dentist.

What information do I need to share with my dentist about my health and medication history?

Be sure to tell your dentist or oral health care professional the following information:

  • If you are taking any other medications, supplements, vitamins, herbal products, over-the-counter products, eye drops, or prescription skin lotions
  • If you are allergic to any medications
  • If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant
  • If you have problems taking any medications
  • If you have any health-related problems or medical conditions, especially any serious conditions that affect your body's major organs – the kidneys, lungs, heart, or liver

Is there any other general information I should know about taking medications?

Yes. Follow these guidelines for the safe use of medications.

  • Keep an updated list of all your medications and their dosages with you.
  • Take your medications exactly as prescribed.
  • Do not stop taking your medications unless you talk to your dentist first. Stopping your medication too early can cause the illness to return or make it more difficult to treat.
  • Do not double the dose of your medication.
  • If you miss a dose of your medication at the scheduled time, don't panic. Take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your regular medication schedule.
  • Do not keep outdated medication or medication that is no longer needed. Throw old medicines away.
  • Store medications in a dry area away from moisture (unless your dentist or pharmacist tells you the medicine needs to be refrigerated).
  • Always keep medications out of the reach of children.
  • Contact your dentist immediately if you experience any unusual side effects after taking your medication.
  • Do not share your medications with others.
  • If you store your medications in a container, label it with the medication name, dose, frequency, and expiration date.
  • Anticipate when your medications will be running out and have your prescriptions renewed as necessary.
  • Use one pharmacy if possible.
  • Keep your medications in your carry-on luggage when you travel. Do not pack your medications in a suitcase that is checked, in case the suitcase is lost.
  • Take extra medication with you when you travel in case your flight is delayed and you need to stay away longer than planned.

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Can't find the health information you’re looking for?

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 6/4/2007…#10914