Does Symbicort cause tooth decay?

The use of Symbicort can result in tooth decay. Symbicort has a side effect of drying the mouth. Persons with dry mouth have a higher rate of tooth decay as saliva is needed to lubricate the tooth and neutralize acids produced by dental plaque. If you are using Symbicort and have a dry mouth, see your dentist. Your dentist can prescribe fluorides that help reduce decay. Keeping your teeth clean with good brushing and flossing will also help. Finally, keeping your mouth moist by sipping water throughout the day will help with mouth dryness.

Not in and of itself, but yes, it can in a roundabout way. Symbicort can cause dry mouth (which is one of its side effects). Dry Mouth promotes a "tooth-decay-friendly" environment because saliva is critical in helping remove food particles. Without saliva, food particles stay, causing bacteria, which causes decay.

So if you take Symbicort (or otherwise have dry mouth), try and rinse more often, brush more often and let your dentist know of your condition—he or she will have more advice/remedies.

Symbicort is a trade name for a long-acting beta-agonist used in the treatment of Asthma and also for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The generic names for this medication are Budesonide or Formitrol.

The mechanism of this medication is as a specific steroid. It decreases the inflammatory response of the body which decreases spasms of the bronchioles. It is a bronchodilator that relaxes the muscles and makes it easier to breathe in the cases of COPD and Asthma. As a by-product, the patient can get an increase of fungal diseases orally and in the bronchioles. These infections can be controlled by antifungal medications in the form of rinses, lozenges or tablets.

Another unwanted result of the medication is an increase in the patient's decay rate. The oral cavity, or mouth, needs a certain amount of salivary flow to keep the decay rate down. There are some four hundred medications that cause xerostomia or dry mouth. When I was a resident, radiation therapy and chemo would increase the decay rate appreciably. Today with all the modern medications, there are a lot more things to be concerned.

Remember, your diet, oral hygiene and plaque are the three ingredients necessary to cause decay. Without the saliva to keep the plaque from sticking, the decay rate is a lot higher. With proper salivary flow, the teeth are slicker and with the movement of cheek and tongue, to a certain extent, teeth are a little self-cleansing. Improper salivary flow causes everything to stick to the enamel surface.

In our office we put patients place them on a fluoride supplement at night. Also, we put the patient on Pilocarpine three times daily. We use an ophthalmic solution and have them place drops on a mint or a stick of gum that has Xylitol. The Xylitol causes no decay, unlike Sucrose, Xylitol does not contribute to decay. It has been compared to Fluoride in that it actually inhibits decay.

Remember your oral health is a partnership between your dentist and you. You have the primary responsibility to brush and floss properly several times per day. If you keep the plaque off of your teeth and gums they will not get decay or gum disease. Also, your diet needs to be restricted of sugar which is the causes of most modern diseases. If you notice in primitive countries where they do not have access to sugar, the problem isn't as bad. Finally, it is your responsibility to make and keep your re-care appointment with your dentist, either 3 or 6 months.

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

Symbicort can cause dry mouth, and because of that, it can contribute to tooth decay. Saliva is very important to help clean the teeth, neutralize acids from foods and prevent decay. After you use Symbicort, rinse your mouth and spit out to remove any residue of the drug from your mouth. See your dentist for mouth rinses that can help prevent decay and increase moisture in your mouth. Also, sipping water during the day and even chewing gum or candies with xylitol can increase the amount of saliva you produce.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.