How Bariatric Surgery Affects Oral Health

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Are you about to have bariatric surgery, or have you had it and you have noticed issues with your teeth and gums? You're not alone. Bariatric surgery can have side effects on your dental health even if you try to take care of your teeth well. Some of these are issues you can try to control, while others are simply unfortunate occurrences that you have to deal with as they happen. But if you know about these issues, you can do your best to remedy them.

More Food Contact

One of the issues people face after having bariatric surgery is that they have to change their meal frequency. Instead of eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they now have to eat several small meals spread out across several hours. With food entering the mouth more often, the teeth and gums come in contact with that food more often. That increases the opportunity for decay to occur.

If you've had any sort of gastric surgery for weight loss reasons, talk to your dentist about increasing the frequency of your regular cleanings and checkups until you get a better sense of how your teeth and gums are doing after the surgery. Brush and floss vigilantly -- don't overdo it, though, as too much brushing and flossing can irritate your gums.

Medications and Dry Mouth

You may also have to take medications for conditions like gastric reflux after your surgery, and these can lead to dry mouth. The lack of saliva can increase the number of bacteria hanging onto your teeth (the saliva usually washes a lot off). Again, you need to be careful about brushing and flossing, and you should talk to your doctor about how to combat the dry mouth, such as by simply drinking more water or by switching medications.

Medication Prohibitions

Speaking of medications, bariatric surgery can make it impossible to take basic medications required for dental procedures. For example, registered dental hygienist Lori Brogna notes that NSAIDs are commonly used for pain control after dental procedures, but these medications can cause ulcers. And if you're a bariatric surgery patient, you do not want an ulcer appearing on the small pouch of stomach that you now use. This risk eliminates NSAIDs as a method of pain control, complicating recovery from dental procedures.

If you've been having trouble with your teeth or need to have dental work done, talk to both your doctor and dentist about the best way to approach caring for your teeth. There are ways to get around these restrictions, but you have to be careful and do this with a doctor's supervision. Visit websites like for more information.