Are Medications Ruining YOUR SMILE?
We are seeing a growing number of patients that are experiencing dryness of their mouths and a number of dental issues associated with this dryness.
In fact, some dryness of the mouth can be so severe that it is not just uncomfortable, it becomes very painful. Additionally, there are times when the throat is so parched, that a person can’t even swallow.
The Importance of Saliva
You may not have given much thought about saliva, other than the fact that the mouth is moistened by it, but the production of saliva is an important process in the mouth. It not only moistens, but it helps control the levels of bacteria and fungi in our mouths, aids in chewing, tasting and digestion, cleans, protects and remineralizes teeth, and neutralizes our mouth after acid attacks.
Naturally, when a patient complains about a decrease in the quality and quantity of their saliva, we become concerned.
The condition of persistent dry mouth is called Xerostomia and it is a common side effect of many of the prescription and non-prescription medications we may be taking as well as a manifestation of certain diseases such as Aids, anemia, stroke, hypertension, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, diabetes and a condition called Sjogren’s syndrome.
Your saliva output can also be damaged by medical treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy, smoking/tobacco products, menopause and dehydration from illnesses, bulimia, excessive sweating, diarrhea, blood loss and burns.
Because our bodies are about 60% water, even a small drop in hydration can affect us immediately, let alone long term. There are over 500 medications that list dry mouth as a possible side effect.
Check out the Colgate Oral Care webpage where the classes of prescription drugs that affect the salivary glands are listed.
If you suspect that you are experiencing dry mouth, speak to your family physician and even your pharmacist as soon as possible. They can, hopefully, find a solution that is right for you.
As dentists, we can recommend that you:
- Restore any dental issues that have arisen due to dry mouth.
- Ensure that you are brushing at least 3 times/day and flossing before bed.
- Limiting your meals to 3-4/day and spacing them out 4-5 hours apart
- Reduce the amount of sugar you intake
- Ask your doctor to suggest the vitamins supplements that are right just for you
- Choose a product from your local pharmacy for help with dry mouth. This includes, sprays, rinses and special toothpastes. You may have to try a few until you find one that works best for you.
- Chew sugar-less gum or suck on sugar-free lozenges
- Drink more water
- Using a humidifier in your bedroom at night
- Use a fluoride rinse at bedtime
- If you use a mouth rinse choose an alcohol/peroxide-free product
- Avoid weather and activity that causes excessive sweating
- Use a nasal spray if you are experiencing sinusitis
- Avoid tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages and highly acidic juices
- Avoid dry food such as crackers and toast
- Avoid very salty foods
Unfortunately, if dryness of the mouth persists and is left unchecked, it can lead to tooth decay, mouth sores and gum problems. If you would like more information about dry mouth, please follow the link below: