Dry Mouth can cause excessive tooth decay

| August 16, 2011

Is Your Dry Mouth More Than Just an Occasional Problem?

Grandview Dental Care Can Help

Most people experience a dry mouth at some point in time, usually during a cold or the flu. Unfortunately, there are situations when the dryness becomes a persistent problem. If and when that occurs, it’s best to seek professional help from your physician—and your dentist. The reduced saliva flow that causes dry mouth, also called xerostomia, can result in a host of problems, from a sore throat and burning sensation to difficulty swallowing, chewing and digesting food. It can also cause tooth decay. Fortunately, the Columbus dental office of Dr. Bill Thompson and Dr. Abraham Hoellrich can help patients treat this problem.

Dry Mouth and Your Teeth

Saliva is more than just water in your mouth. It also contains enzymes and lubricants that help to control bacteria. It is necessary for washing away the food and neutralizing the acids produced by plaque. Without adequate saliva, cavities, periodontal disease—even infection–may occur. At the same time, constant dryness contributes to bad breath, and full dentures are uncomfortable to wear because there is not enough saliva to help them adhere to the oral tissues. These are all problems that should not be left untreated, and the professionals at Grandview Dental Care can help.

 Common Causes of Dry Mouth

The causes of Dry Mouth vary greatly. It is a common side effect of various medications, both prescription and non-prescription. In fact, dry mouth is listed as a potential side effect of more than 400 medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, diuretics, antihypertensives and antidepressants. It may also result from radiation treatments for head and neck cancers, emotional stress, and autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and Sjögren’s syndrome. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause have also triggered symptoms of Dry Mouth. Even snoring and open-mouthed breathing can leave the mouth feeling especially dry.

 Treating Dry Mouth: Tips from Grandview Dental Care

If you suffer from Dry Mouth, here are a few things you can do:

  • Talk to the professionals at Grandview Dental Care or your physician about using saliva substitutes to keep the oral tissues moist. These products are available in rinses, sprays, swabs, gels and tablets that dissolve in the mouth.
  • Sip water and/or ice chips frequently.
  • Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candy to stimulate the salivary flow in your mouth.
  • Use a humidifier while you sleep.
  •  Avoid salty or spicy foods, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.

In the meantime, proper preventive dentistry is a must. Tell your dentist about any medications you’re taking and other information about your health that may contribute to Dry Mouth. Take care of your teeth and gums to minimize decay and periodontal disease. That means brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. In some instances, it may be necessary to supplement with a fluoride toothpaste or rinse.