Indian Journal of Dental Sciences

: 2016  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 252--254

Corticosteroids in dentistry

Rishu Bhanot1, Jyoti Mago2,  
1 Department of Medicine, DMC and Hospital, Ludhiana, Punjab, India
2 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, SKSS Dental College and Hospital, Ludhiana, Punjab, India

Correspondence Address:
Rishu Bhanot
Department of Medicine, DMC and Hospital, Ludhiana, Punjab


Steroids are one of the widely used drugs in dentistry. These are immunosuppressive agents. The reason for its use is its anti-inflammatory as well as immunosuppressive properties. Corticosteroids have revolutionized the management of several disabling conditions, but its use in term of dosage is inappropriate. The current review highlights its uses, contraindications, side-effects as well as a guideline for its use in dentistry.

How to cite this article:
Bhanot R, Mago J. Corticosteroids in dentistry.Indian J Dent Sci 2016;8:252-254

How to cite this URL:
Bhanot R, Mago J. Corticosteroids in dentistry. Indian J Dent Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Feb 26 ];8:252-254
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Full Text

Steroids are the substances that are naturally produced in our body. These are one of the widely prescribed drugs in both medical and dental sciences. Commonly used steroids are hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, methyl prednisolone, prednisolone, etc. Dental patients with a history of corticosteroid use may require special consideration before receiving any dental treatment. Currently, the misuse of steroids is its overdosage as it is prescribed even before minor dental procedures. The risks associated with excess glucocorticoid administration are relatively small.[1] These includes impaired electrolyte balance and hypertension.[2] The current review emphasizes on the uses and guidelines of use of corticosteroid in dentistry.

 Uses and Effects of Steroid in Dentistry


Steroids have shown its effects on root resorption.[3] In intracanal medicaments such as ledermix paste which reduces pulpal inflammation as well as root resorption. Further, zinc oxide eugenol along with steroids is also used as root canal sealer. In cavity liners, when steroid is mixed with chloramphenicol and gum caphor to reduce mainly postoperative thermal sensitivity.


It is reported that the upon treatment with hydrocortisone at a dose of 10 mg/kg/day for 7 days on rats followed by observed for 20 h; the teeth showed a lower amount of tooth movement. Hence, it is essential that the patients are reviewed of their prior history of corticosteroids use.[4]

Oral surgery

Steroids are used after oral surgical procedures to limit postoperative inflammation. In 1974, Hooley and Hohl elaborated the use of steroid in the prevention of postoperative edema. He further concluded that topical use of steroid helps to prevent ulceration and excoriation which results during retraction during surgery over the lips and corners of the mouth.[1]

Oral medicine

In the treatment of various diseases as summarized.

Oral submucous fibrosis

Topical application of steroid applied over ulcerative or painful mucosa. The anti-inflammatory property of steroid shows a direct healing action on the mucosal patch.[5]

Oral lichen planus

A gingival tray can also be used to deliver 0.05% clobetasol propionate with 100,000 IU/ml of nystatin in orabase. Around 3–5 min application of this mixture daily appears to be effective in controlling erosive lichen planus.[6]

Erythema multiforme

Early therapy begins with systemic prednisone (0.5–1.0 mg/kg/day) or pulse methylprednisolone (1 mg/kg/day for 3 days).[7] Intravenous pulsed dose methylprednisolone (3 consecutive daily infusions of 20–30 mg/kg to a maximum of 500 mg given over 2–3 h) is reported, with the suggestion that this approach is superior to oral prednisone because it imparts the benefit when treatment is administered as early as possible in the progression of the cutaneous insult.[8]

Pemphigus vulgaris

Systemic steroids with other immunosuppressive agents are used. Pulse therapy is most commonly used. Each pulse is not standardized. 500–1000 mg prednisolone or 100–200 dexamethasone is given for each pulse.[9]

Bullous and mucous membrane pemphigoid

The mainstay of the treatment of pemphigoid is a moderate dose of corticosteroid. However, in severe cases, steroid-sparing agents are used. This includes clobetasol propionate 20–40 mg daily dose.[6]

Bell's palsy

Prednisolone 60–80 mg daily during 1st 5 days and taper over next 5 days.[10]

Central giant cell granuloma

Intracellular corticosteroid injections are used for nonsurgical treatment. Topically, triamcinolone acetonide can also be given as it suppresses an angiogenic component of the lesion.[11]

Post herpetic neuralgia

The systemic steroid is used to reduce the pain in these patients.[9]

Melkersson Rosenthal Syndrome

Due to anti-inflammatory action of steroid, it is used to reduce swelling and persistent edema. Short courses are preferred. Prednisolone in dose 1–1.5 mg/kg/day is given mainly. Tapering can be done further over 3–6 weeks depending on the severity as well as response.[12]

 Guideline for Dental Use

Current evidence reveals that the majority of patients with adrenal insufficiency can undergo routine, nonsurgical dental treatment without the need for supplemental glucocorticoids.[13],[14] This conclusion is supported by the fact that these dental procedures do not stimulate cortisol production at levels comparable to those oral surgical procedures,[15] and local anesthetic blocks neural stress pathways required for adrenocorticotropic hormone secretion.[16]

For patients undergoing general anesthesia for minor surgery 100 mg hydrocortisone intramuscularly should be administered and the usual glucocorticoid medications maintained. For major surgery 100 mg hydrocortisone delivered as a bolus preoperatively followed by 50 mg 8-hourly for 48 h is adequate.[17]

The major controversy resides for the patients who are undergoing any oral surgical procedures and had discontinued steroids recently. These are prescribed with supplemental steroid therapy. A conservative approach remains to wait 2 weeks for the normal adrenal function to return before performing elective oral surgical procedures.[18],[19],[20] However, this conservative waiting period is not required for patients who are receiving 30 mg of hydrocortisone (that is, 5 mg of prednisone) or less per day.[21]

 Contraindications of Steroids

Steroids may exacerbate the response in the following conditions. Therefore, these are contraindicated. In patients with:

Primary bacterial infection Hypersensitivity Peptic ulcer Diabetes mellitus Hypertension Pregnancy Osteoporosis Herpes simplex infections Psychosis Epilepsy Congestive heart failure Renal failure.


Sideeffects depend on duration for which steroids are given, dosage of the drug as well as approach it is used.

Systemic approach

In patients, suffering from primary hyperaldosteronism secondary to an adrenal adenoma and in patients treated with potent mineralocorticoids, it may cause hypokalemic alkalosis, edema as well as hypertension.[4]

Other side effects includes Cushing's habitus, skin atrophy, precipitation of diabetic myopathy, susceptibility to infection, delayed healing of wounds, peptic ulcers, osteoporosis, osteonecrosis, ophthalmic complications, growth retardation, fetal abnormalities, central nervous system complications, suppression of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, effects on reproductive system, hyperlipidemia, weight gain, atherosclerosis, hypertension, malignancy.[4]

Topical approach

This approach causes adverse effects, such as skin atrophy, hypopigmentation contact dermatitis, oral thrush, subcutaneous fat wasting, and cushingoid effect.[22]

Inhalation approach

These include oropharyngeal candidiasis, dysphonia, reflex cough, bronchospasm, pharyngitis.[23]

Intralesional injections

This may lead to mucosal atrophy.[24]

 Minimize the Effects of Steroid Therapy

Probiotics play a crucial role in minimizing the effects of candidiasis when the patient is under steroid therapy. Probiotics act in three-ways. First, it inhibits pathogenic enteric bacteria. Second, it improves epithelial and mucosal barrier function by enhancing mucus production, increasing barrier integrity and by producing short chain fatty acids. Third, it alters immune regulation by stimulating secretory immunoglobulin a production, decreasing tumor necrosis factor expression, by inducing interleukin-10.[25]


Corticosteroids are regarded as double-edged sword to the patients. Despite its various advantages, they also have severe side-effects. These drugs are one of the most misused drugs in the form of dosage. The current article highlights its various uses, side-effects, and contraindications in the oral and maxillofacial region as well as a guideline for its use in dentistry.


Dr. Rajesh Bhanot, Principal and HOD, Department of Prosthodontics, SKSS Dental College and Hospital, Sarabha, Ludhiana, Punjab, India.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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