Oral Health Group

sleeping pills

August 6, 2014
by Kahaliah Richards

A recent article in the NY Times talked about weaning older patients off of nightly regimens of sleeping pills. Why “de-prescribe” these medications (benzodiazepines) such as Ativan, Ambien, Halcion, Lunesta and Valium? There are many good reasons but one which pertains to oral health, is the side effect on salivary flow.

In 2008, a study reported that compared to healthy controls, younger patients on benzodiazepines had one third less saliva. Imagine the extent of this side effect in an older patient who is combining sleeping pills with other medications such as diuretics and SSRIs?

The NY Times article reported that 1 in 3 Quebec seniors regularly take a sleeping pill.

At this prevalence, and with this xerostomic effect, most hygienists and dentists should routinely be on watch for those on sleeping pills. And for those patients who are,  the primary point for discussion needs to be more prevention.

In many practices serving older communities, this discussion should happen daily.

By: Ross Perry
SOURCED: Partners In Prevention – http://partnersinprevention.ca/sleeping-pills/

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