Steroid Effects

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Dental Issues after 50

The final post in our “Medication and Dental Surgery: How your medical history influences treatment decisions” is on patients who routinely take steroid medications.

Steroid medications are rarely used in dentistry, but in general medicine, they may be used to control certain inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.  These drugs, often referred to as corticosteroids, suppress the immune response and may, therefore, have an adverse effect on general health and wellbeing.  Such adverse effects are largely dose related.

The regular use of corticosteroid medications can cause suppression of the adrenal gland production of natural steroids that are needed in times of stress.  This can result in a collapse of the patient due to a stress related incident if steroid medication is suddenly withdrawn.  For this reason, patients on steroids must never cease the drugs suddenly but rather should gradually reduce their dose.  Generally, these patients need their steroid medication dose increased prior to surgery to assist in their body in its reaction to surgical, physical and mental stress related to the surgical event.

Other side effects of long-term regular steroid medication include the development of diabetes, gastric ulceration, osteoporosis, development of thin skin that damages easily, recurrent infection and immunosuppression.

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