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.
At St. Paul General Dentistry we know 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