Posted By: Amanda Banks, RDH
Are you suffering from dry mouth?
Most people who have dry mouth are well aware of it. They will tell us that they always feel the need to drink water, and even wake up in the middle of the night to do so. If your mouth is only a little dryer than it should be, the problem may not be as obvious to you, but we will often notice the difference in your mouth during your appointment. Dry mouth is mostly seen in older individuals because it is often caused by medications, and the more medications you take, the more likely you are to experience the side effect. Dry mouth is also seen in people who use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea. Radiation treatment can also leave people with less saliva.
Why does it matter?
Aside from the obvious annoyance of having your mouth feel dry all the time, having a dry mouth leaves you more susceptible to cavities. Saliva plays an important role in naturally cleansing teeth of the bad stuff we all put in our mouths, and if you don’t have much saliva, all of that stuff sits on your teeth longer. Saliva is also critical for keeping your teeth strong and healthy. Your teeth undergo constant de-mineralization and re-mineralization throughout your life. Foods that are acidic and sugary contribute more to the breakdown process of the teeth, but then your saliva comes by with minerals like calcium and phosphorus and builds them back up. Fluoride helps with this process as well, making your teeth stronger and less susceptible to the breakdown. If you don’t have saliva helping to rebuild your teeth, then the scales shift in favor of breakdown and decay.
What can I do about it?
Obviously, we don’t recommend that you stop taking your medications and stop using your CPAP machine, so all we can do is combat the symptoms. If you have a mild case of dry mouth, you may be able to get by with chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candy to encourage more saliva production. Generally, if you have moderate to severe dry mouth, you will need more than that. A lot of people don’t realize that the toothpaste aisle in the grocery store has a whole section devoted to dry mouth. It’s not a huge section, but there are many different types of products. They make dry mouth toothpaste, gel, rinse, gum, lozenges, and spray. There are different brands and flavors, and surely something for everyone. We also carry a special product in our office called GC Dry Mouth Gel. It is made by the company who makes MI Paste and MI Paste One, which we also love and are also great for dry mouth sufferers because they will help fight decay. The GC Dry Mouth Gel comes in different flavors, and you just apply it with your finger. These GC products are our best recommendations for patients who suffer from dry mouth. A fluoride varnish treatment at your cleaning appointments is a good idea too. Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
To learn about your treatment options for dry mouth, visit Dr. Richard Keech at Keech Family Dentistry in Fayetteville, AR. To schedule an appointment, call (479) 217-3178 or request an appointment online.