Does the sugar found in medications increase the risk of caries?
- Mark Donaldson, BSP, RPH, PharmD, FASHP, FACHE
- Jason H. Goodchild, DMD
- Joel B. Epstein, DMD, MSD, FRCD(C), FDS, RCS(Edin)
Courtesy of the American Dental Association, you can access the full-text article for the next 3 months here (PDF)
- Oral adverse events such as cariogenicity are often overlooked as drug-associated effects because the sugar content of many medications may be negligible compared with the patients’ overall dietary intake of sugar.
- There are, however, several liquid formulations of medications with significantly high sugar content that are commonly used in patients with swallowing difficulties.
- These medications may be associated with negative oral health sequelae and should be considered part of the oral health care providers’ differential diagnosis of oral pathologies.
Purpose of the Review
- Review the sugar content of oral liquid medications commonly prescribed by oral health care providers (OHCPs) with consideration to their caries potential.
- Focus specifically on some of the most common sugar-containing oral liquid medications patients may be exposed to;
- Review their oral health implications; and
- Provide guidance for contemporary dental practice.
- Over 50 commonly used oral liquid medications prescribed for patients with swallowing difficulties were reviewed and found to contain sugar in varying amounts up to 4 grams per dose (usually 1 teaspoon or 5 milliliters).
- Patients who are required to take multiple doses per day of these sugar-containing oral liquid medications may be at increased risk for caries and associated oral health consequences.
Practical Clinical Implications
- Recognition and avoidance of sugar-containing oral liquid medications can help clinicians optimize patient treatment, decreasing the risk for potential drug-induced caries while emphasizing patient safety and improved oral health.