Side Effects of Dry Mouth

Are you wondering why you are starting to get cavities when you haven’t had them in years? As we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. It is, however, a side effect of more than 500 medications including those used for asthma, allergies, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain and anxiety.
Dry mouth is more than just an uncomfortable inconvenience. Saliva plays a big role in protecting your teeth from cavities. Saliva not only helps wash away food and plaque from your teeth it also contains substances found to help counter the acid produced by bacteria and can even help repair early tooth decay.
This is just one reason why it is important to tell your dentist about all medications that you are taking. Dr. Glass and Cindie can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and protect your teeth from cavities.

Here are some common recommendations:

• Use over the counter oral moisturizing gel or rinse such as Biotene
• Consult with your physician on whether to change your medication or dosage
• Drink more water. Carry a bottle with you and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
• Use sugar free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production. Products containing xylitol have an added protective element
• Get a humidifier to use at night to keep your mouth and airway moist
• Avoid food and beverages that irritate or further dry the mouth. Coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices are all culprits
• Dr. Glass may recommend a prescription fluoride toothpaste or the application of a fluoride varnish in our office to protect your teeth from decay.

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Do you suffer from Dry Mouth? You are not alone!

Dry mouth, also known as Xerostomia, is associated with salivary gland hypofunction where there is a reduced amount of salivary output. Many people with this condition are un-aware that it means more than just mouth discomfort or bad breath. Saliva is essential to lubricate and protect our teeth, tongue and tissues. It aids in chewing, swallowing and digesting food and also protects our teeth from decay. Saliva is 98% water but the other 2% is made up of essential electrolytes, mucous, antibacterial components and various enzymes. When we aren’t producing an adequate amount of saliva to lubricate the mouth, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque we become more prone to cavities.

Many people are at risk for having dry mouth, but are unaware that it can create an unhealthy environment for your mouth. In many cases, people that suffer from dry mouth are experiencing a side effect from some common prescription medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, anti depressants and high blood pressure medications. It may also be a sign of a disease such as poorly controlled diabetes or other systemic conditions such as anxiety, stress or dehydration. As harmless as dry mouth may seem, it is not a condition to be overlooked. Some common problems with dry mouth include a burning sensation, problems speaking, difficulty swallowing, oral infections, gum disease, bad breath and tooth decay. A dry mouth also irritates the soft tissues in the mouth making them more susceptible to infection. Without the cleansing effect of saliva oral health problems become more common.

If you suffer from Dry Mouth there are ways to manage the ill effects and protect your teeth from suffering decay as a result of lack of saliva production.

• Drink water frequently and sip on water throughout the day.
• Suck on sugar free candy or chew sugar free gum, gum containing xylitol can help stimulate salivary flow while preventing cavities.
• Avoid mouth rinses that contain alcohol and avoid alcoholic beverages because they increase dry mouth. There are mouth rinses on the market that are made specifically for patients that suffer from Dry Mouth.
• Limit intake of salty and spicy foods
• Quit smoking
• Use a soft bristle toothbrush and brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal and use a toothpaste containing fluoride.
• Floss your teeth daily
• Most importantly, visit us at least twice a year to ensure your mouth is in good shape. If you are more prone to decay due to your dry mouth, catching and taking care of cavities early can prevent more costly and painful procedures down the road. To ensure maximum protection we may recommend a prescription toothpaste with a higher fluoride content to keep your teeth strong and aid in the prevention of cavities.