The month after I was released from the hospital, I noticed that my teeth were getting more sensitive to temperature. I mentioned it to both my rheumie and my dentist in that same month. I had been taking 60mg of prednisone up to that point. I suggested to my rheumie that it was a side effect of the steroids; he said no. My dentist didn’t think it was the steroids either. She said she could give me a treatment for the sensitivity. Sigh… I saw my dentist 6 months later and mentioned to her that I still had some tooth sensitivity, but it wasn’t as bad as before. I mentioned this to her in hopes of starting a discussion about the possible effects of prednisone. I told her that I noticed that my tooth sensitivity decreased as my prednisone dosage decreased.
When I first mentioned my sensitive teeth to my dentist, she recommended that I use Sensodyne toothpaste. She said that if that doesn’t help and the sensitivity gets worse that there was a topical treatment that she could administer. Prior to that I was using Tom’s of Maine’s Natural Toothpaste. Interestingly enough, I had made the switch from toothpastes that had the ingredient SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) to Tom’s of Maine because I had started to get sores in my mouth. I had done some research and found that others had experienced sores caused by SLS. Now the sores were prior to my lupus diagnosis, so I wonder if the sores were from lupus or from the toothpaste? However, the sores did go away after I made the switch to the SLS-free toothpaste. In my most recent visit to my dentist, she recommended that I try a new toothpaste, Biotene, to help with my sensitivity. I have yet to try this one out. I couldn’t find it at Target, so I will buy online. I was happy to learn that Biotene is SLS-free.
My prednisone dosage had decreased by 50 milligrams in between my two dentist visits (6 months apart). A couple of months ago, eating salad was a major feat. The cold lettuce leaves hurt my teeth. I resorted to making salad early and leaving it out to get to room temperature. Even then, the lettuce and company in the salad hurt my teeth. Even air hurt. If I happened to take in a large breath through my mouth and air passed over my teeth, my nerves wracked with pain. Seriously, it would stop me in my tracks.
During my period of extreme sensitivity, I had to make changes to the way I ate (and breathed).
- I ate warm or hot food.
- I put refrigerated lettuces out on counter to get to room temperature.
- I never refrigerated my fruit.
- I always cut or sliced my fruit; it hurt to bite into something like an apple or pear even if it was at room temperature.
- I drank from a straw if I had a smoothie.
- I drank room temperature beverages. I always asked for water without ice at restaurants.
- I wore a scarf around my mouth when I went for walks to act as a buffer to any air if I happened to breath through my mouth. I tried not to get winded so that I could avoid having to breath through my mouth.
- I brushed my teeth with warm water—never cold or just straight from the first-turned-on faucet.
My doctors and I are definitely not on the same page here. I was frustrated in discussing this with my doctors. Perhaps I was frustrated because it really wasn’t a discussion; it was just my question and their answer–no relevance. But my experience told me different. How can I not believe that the tooth sensitivity is connected to the steroids?
The only thing that I believe made a notable difference in my sensitivity was when my prednisone dosage dropped, and my body had time to work the steroids out of my system. But before that happened, eating (and sometimes breathing) was a bit of a struggle. I also have to include that I was doing a version of the autoimmune protocol diet in the last 5 months when I have noticed an improvement in my teeth. My dosage lowering and new diet/lifestyle do coincide.
I did do a few Google searches and found that there are others who have had similar experiences with prednisone and tooth sensitivity. So, I am glad it’s not just me. I still have some sensitivity but just not as bad. I’d love to see a study done on this. Perhaps more doctors will then see it as relevant and then patients can be better prepared and know what they might expect.
Have you ever experienced tooth sensitivity because of your medications? What helped your situation? Do you have any tips to share?