If you have started taking a new medication recently, chances are your doctor told you that a side-effect would be dry mouth. This side-effect is common with many prescriptions, and it now affects nearly half of everyone over the age of 65. Dr. Watson wants to continue recognizing National Healthy Aging Month, by educating his patients and their loved ones about his condition and the importance it has on a healthy life.
The technical term for dry mouth is xerostomia, and it occurs when a person’s saliva glands are not operating properly to generate the three pints of saliva per day that the average person’s mouth produces. There are three kinds of glands that create and excrete saliva for the mouth, and all need to be working right for everything to feel normal and healthy.
While there are many causes of dry mouth, one of the leading sources is from any number of prescriptions. 32 million Americans are taking three or more medications daily, and dry mouth can be a side effect from over 400 of these, including blood pressure medicine, antihistamines, diet pills, antidepressants, stomach medications and sleeping pills.
Along with medications, there are other things that may cause dry mouth, which are also important to note. If your dry mouth comes along suddenly and can’t immediately be traced to a recent change in prescriptions, you may want to consult your doctor about a number of diseases which could be causing the changes in your mouth.
As we discussed in the blog post, Desert Dry Mouths Stink, dry mouth is one of the leading causes of bad breath, which is reason enough for many people to seek help from their Jackson area dentist. If you don’t feel that you have bad breath though, what is the big deal?
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, not having a lot of saliva in your mouth actually increases your risk of cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and all of the problems that go along with them. It can greatly affect the health of your mouth and lead you to lose your teeth a lot quicker than you might have otherwise. The good news is that it can be easily fixable!
Getting rid of your chronic dry mouth may be as easy as asking your doctor to switch your medications. If this is not possible, or if your dry mouth has other origins, you will need to make sure that you are doing everything you can to take care of your mouth.
Make sure to sip water or other sugar-free juices frequently throughout the day. Stimulate the flow of saliva in your mouth by eating foods which require a lot of chewing. Chew sugarless gum. You can even try “sucking” a cherry or olive pit.
For those suffering from xerostomia it is crucial to maintain a daily hygiene routine. Brush and floss twice daily and make sure to rinse your mouth after sugary snacks or meals. Use a mouthwash recommended by Dr. Watson, being sure to avoid those with alcohol in them, which will only add to your problems.
Of course, your best option will probably be to discuss these issues with Dr. Watson and his team, who may be able to come up with a specific treatment plan for you. If you have any questions please call Jackson Center for Smiles today!