3 Ways Your Parkinson's Medicine May Hurt Your Teeth

If you suffer from Parkinson's disease, your doctor may have prescribed a medication known as propranolol to help calm tremors. This drug is known as a beta blocker, and while very effective in treating movement disorders, it can cause problems with your teeth and gums. Here are three ways your Parkinson's medications can affect your oral health and what you can do about it:

Dry Mouth

Propranolol and other beta blocking drugs can affect salivary gland function in people with Parkinson's disease. Because of this, the amount and quality of your saliva may be affected, leaving you at risk for a dry mouth. In extreme cases, beta blocker-related salivary gland dysfunction can be so severe that people are unable to chew, swallow food, or even talk comfortably.

If you take propranolol and experience a dry mouth, your dentist can recommend an oral rinse that is enzyme-based, which will help moisturize your oral cavity so that eating, chewing, and speaking will be more comfortable.

Bleeding Gums

Propranolol can also lead to bleeding gums because beta blockers inhibit platelet aggregation. This causes your blood to become less sticky, and it also causes your blood to thin. While this is a beneficial adverse reaction for people who have risk factors for heart attacks and strokes, this prescription drug may cause prolonged bleeding after routine oral care and dental procedures.

If you take beta blockers and experience bleeding gums, your health care provider might recommend an alternative tremor medication that is less likely to produce anticoagulant effects. Natural methods for calming Parkinson's-related fine hand tremors include avoiding caffeinated food products such as coffee, tea, and chocolate, managing stress levels, engaging in mild forms of aerobic exercise, and getting adequate sleep.

If you are sleep deprived, your body may over-produce cytokines, substances that can trigger systemic inflammation, worsening symptoms of Parkinson's disease and raising the risk for gum inflammation. 


Because propranolol can dry out your oral mucous membranes, you may be at greater risk for developing periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease. You need adequate salivary production in order to help wash away the bacteria that causes gum disease.

When your mouth is persistently dry, bacteria and other microorganisms can accumulate in your mouth raising the risk for gum disease. If periodontitis is not recognized and treated early on, destruction of the bones that support your teeth may develop.

See your dentist if you experience bleeding or painful gums, unusual discharge coming from your gingival tissue, toothache, or jaw pain. These may be symptoms of severe gum disease that can be treated with professional dental care.

If you take propranolol or other beta blockers to manage your hand tremors, see your family dentist for routine checkups. If you experience bleeding gums, gingivitis, or a persistently dry mouth because of your medications, your doctor may discontinue your propranolol and prescribe a different Parkinson's medication that is less likely to harm your teeth and gums. You may also want to consider talking to a dentist at a clinic like Hoffman & Karl Dental Associates, PLLC for more assistance.