Dry mouth (reduced saliva, also known as xerostomia) is a problems because it creates a:
-Higher risk of cavities, because saliva neutralizes and buffers acids in the mouth caused by foods and bacteria, as well as cleanses the teeth
-Increased risk of oral infections
-Decreased sense of taste and enjoyment of food
Causes of dry mouth
Medications seem to account for a substantial portion of dry mouth cases, especially among the elderly. Over 400 agents in drugs affect salivary levels, with evidence that the risk of xerostomia rises with the number of medications.
o Commonly used medications include those for those for acne, allergies (antihistamines), anxiety, asthma, depression, diarrhea, high blood pressure, incontinence, nausea, obesity, Parkinson’s disease. Other contributors are muscle relaxants and sedatives.
o Damage to salivary glands (Due to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, neck surgery)
o Dehydration (may be due to fever, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of blood)
o Habits, such as consumption of tobacco or methamphetamines (“meth”), breathing with mouth open, snoring.
o Diabetes, anemia, hypertension
Treatment of dry mouth should target its causes. For example, if your dry mouth is caused by medication, then an alternative medication or dosage change may help.
If a medication change or a health condition cannot be addressed to help with dry mouth, you can help promote saliva in the following ways:
• Sipping water or sugarless drinks often and during meals
• Avoiding drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and some sodas
• Professional recommendation for oral care products that will assist in moisturizing the mouth
• Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy to stimulate saliva flow citrus, cinnamon or mint-flavored candies are good choices
• Avoid tobacco or alcohol, which dry out the mouth
• Minimize spicy or salty foods, which may cause pain in a dry mouth
• Avoid sugar and acidic foods
• Using a humidifier at night
It is important to perform daily and effective removal of plaque, which is the main preventable cause of cavities and gum disease.
We have also found in our practice that a combination of over the counter Biotene products (gels, rinses, sprays, lozenges), a product available via prescription called Neutrasal, and PerioSciences’ Anti-Oxidant Gel can also be helpful for our patients suffering from dry mouth. For more information, call us today at 727-586-2681 or visit our website at www.brittenperio.com
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