• Different types of tablets

Different types of tablets

Increasingly tablets are being made which are suitable for patients who cannot swallow normal tablets. These are listed below with examples provided.

Dispersible or effervescent tablets

These tablets are designed to be added to water just prior to swallowing. They are frequently quite large and can contain large amounts of salt. The size makes it difficult to take many of them. Frequently, due to the salt content, doctors may choose not to prescribe them for regular use in some patients.

Sub-lingual tablets

These tablets are designed to be dissolved under the tongue, are rapidly absorbed through the tongue and therefore work quickly. This is why some tablets for the treatment of angina pain and others for general pain are made in this manner. The difficulty with these medicines is that they require sufficient saliva production and due to getting into the body quickly can be more likely to both cause side effects and be quickly removed from the body.

Buccal tablets

Buccal tablets are intended to be placed on the gum or in the cheek to allow the drug absorbed. Because the medicine can be held for a longer period of time on the gum, medicines which need to get into the body at a slower rate than sub-lingual tablets can be given this way. Buccal tablets are used for anti-sickness drugs and for nicotine replacement for smoking addiction in the form of chewing gums. Buccal tablets are good for the treatment of sickness because in such cases the tablets would just be thrown back up and therefore would not work.


Melt tablets are placed on the tongue and are meant to dissolve directly in the mouth’s saliva. The drug is then swallowed with saliva. Therefore water does not have to be given with these medicines. This is really useful in patients who are at risk of taking food or water into their lungs and are therefore unable to swallow tablets and water at the same time safely.

Oro-dispersible tablets

Oro-dispersible tablets are similar to melts and are designed to disperse in the mouth and to be washed down with saliva. As with sub-lingual, buccal and melts, oro-dispersible products require a good amount of saliva production. Some oro-dispersible tablets consist of coated granules and therefore it is not appropriate to crush the oro-dispersible product prior to placing in the mouth.