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Annual Program

Polypharmacy and the Dental Patient

The Affects of Medications on Dental Treatment

In the dental office, an adverse drug reaction (ADR) may occur with the administration of a single drug.  The risk of an ADR increases when managing patients who use multiple medications. 40% of seniors take an average of three medications.

Currently, persons age 65 and older comprise 13% of the population but consume almost 1/3 of all drugs prescribed in the United States. ADRs occur more often in older persons – often due to polypharmacy. The potential risk of an adverse reaction rises from 6% for those persons who use two medications to 50% for those who use five and to 100% for those persons who use eight or more.

In the dental setting, taking a thorough health history and monitoring the patient carefully can prevent most of these ADRs.

The medical conditions resulting in polypharmacy and the medications themselves impact our patient’s oral health and the way dentistry is practiced.


  1. Identify medical conditions necessitating a drug and its potential impact on the provision of dental care.
  2. Identify drugs with the potential for oral side effects.
  3. Create a system for assessing and prescribing for the polypharmacy patient.

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