Many over-the-counter medications can cause side effects in children. These side effects may include drowsiness, excitability, stomach upset, and blurred vision. However, they can also cause side effects inside the mouth. Here are some manifestations of OTC oral side effects and how a children's dental care specialist can treat them. 

Bleeding Gums

Over-the-counter pain and fever reducers such as ibuprofen can raise your child's risk for bleeding gums. These medications alter platelet function, leading to decreased platelet aggregation. When this happens, your child's blood may not clot as fast as it normally should, which may result in abnormal bleeding of the gums.

If your child takes ibuprofen or any aspirin-containing OTC medications, let the dentist know so that they can take precautions when performing probing dental examinations with sharp instruments or when scraping tartar off the teeth during cleanings. While certain medications can cause bleeding gums, if your child's gums bleed profusely or if you are unable to stop the bleeding, seek medical attention to rule out other causes of abnormal bleeding.


Also known as dry mouth, xerostomia can be caused by over-the-counter drugs known as antihistamines. One of the most common antihistamines is diphenhydramine and it is commonly recommended for children who have allergies. Antihistamines may also be recommended for kids who get carsick because it helps prevent nausea and vomiting. Xerostomia can heighten your child's risk for gingivitis and cavities as a result of diminished salivary flow.

When your child does not have enough saliva in their mouth to wash away oral bacteria, the bacteria can accumulate inside the oral cavity and cause gum disease and dental decay. If your child takes antihistamines and develops a dry mouth, the dentist can recommend a non-alcohol moisturizing oral rinse to help rinse oral bacteria away. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and chewing sugar-free gum can further help stimulate the flow of saliva and moisten the mouth.

The children's dental care specialist may also recommend more frequent professional teeth cleanings and checkups to help lower the risk for gingivitis and cavities if your child suffers from chronic drug-related dry mouth. 

If your child takes medication that causes bleeding gums or dry mouth, have them see their dentist on a regular basis. With preventative dental care and a good daily routine of brushing and flossing, your child will be less likely to develop lasting oral effects from OTC medications such as gum disease and tooth decay.

For more information, contact a children's dental care specialist.