An increasing number of patients in my practice are reporting a problem with dry mouth. This condition is termed “xerostomia.” Xerostomia can be a side effect of the medications a person is taking for illnesses such as high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, allergies, weight loss, Parkinson’s disease, pain and many more. However, there are many other factors that contribute to a decrease in salivary production including the aging process, radiation treatments and depression.
The Dallas Dentist knows that, aside from being annoying, the symptoms of dry mouth can cause significant dental hygiene problems. Saliva is the body’s natural cleansing mouth rinse. Each time we swallow, saliva washes away bacteria, as well as the food and debris on which they feed. Saliva contains compounds that kill bacteria in the mouth, and without proper dental hygiene dry mouth enhances the conditions for bacterial growth (and associated periodontal disease) as the ability to neutralize bacterial waste products is reduced.
If you’re experiencing chronic dry mouth and you suspect that it may be due to medication, consult with your medical doctor who may be able to adjust your dosage to help alleviate the problem. Some other steps you can take to reduce symptoms are:
- Using sugar-free candy or gum
- Drinking plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist
- Using a vaporizer to add moisture to the air in your bedroom
- Using an artificial saliva substitute available at your pharmacy
- Tell your dentist about your dry mouth and ask for recommendations
The reduction in saliva production leads to the very conditions on which the bacteria in your mouth thrive, allowing bacteria lingering at the gumline and between teeth to cause serious damage, periodontal disease or gingivitis. Since patients with Xerostomia (dry mouth) are at increased risk for periodontal disease, good dental hygiene – brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste, using a fluoride rinse, and visiting your Dallas Dentist frequently for cleanings and examinations – are critically important to your oral health.