What do over five hundred medications have in common?
These medications treat various chronic problems all over the body. But what you may not be aware of is they can create major problems for your teeth. Why? Because these medications reduce saliva production. They cause Xerostomia or Dry Mouth.
Saliva just doesn’t make our mouths wet; it protects our teeth from bacterial attack. Good, healthy saliva acts as a buffer to neutralize acidic foods. If you produce no saliva then mouth acid levels increases and the acid-loving bacteria in your mouth takes advantage. Our teeth decay, and this decay is not just a nuisance repaired by a simple filling. It can dissolve exposed roots, sometimes under the gums. It can happen so fast that nothing can be done to save the tooth, and it needs to be extracted.
The lack of saliva makes the skin and lips around your mouth to feel dry and tight. Your lips may become cracked and sores might form at the corners of your mouth. Your tongue may feel rough and dry. It may also be tough to swallow and talk.
Saliva should clean your mouth of food particles and debris regularly. When it does not it could cause bad breath. Women wearing lipstick, it might end up on your teeth because there’s nothing there to rinse it off. Feeling hoarse or have a scratchy throat? Dry mouth may be the cause.
Smoking is also associated with dry mouth. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, other tobacco products, and especially the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) found in the marijuana plant has a direct impact on your salivary glands. The result is severe dry mouth.
Dry mouth can also occur as a result of some chronic diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome. It can occur following radiation therapy to the head and mouth region as well as after chemotherapy.
So, what’s the solution? If you are taking medications, they are causing dry mouth, one thing you can do is to ask your medical doctor if there is an alternative medication. Barring that, you need to do your best to keep the mouth moist and the acid reduced. A constant water bottle by your side is one solution. But even then, there is no assurance that the mouth acids will be neutralized. I recommend some patients to rinse with baking soda rinses up to four times per day. Make a solution of one tablespoon of baking soda to eight ounces of water. Rinse for one minute and spit out. The eight ounces of water should last the entire day.
There is also artificial saliva that you can purchase from your local pharmacy as well. There is also a natural sugar that actually can reverse tooth decay; xylitol. Xylitol comes as a straight granulated sugar. You can find xylitol is health food stores and some dental offices.
An excellent rinse to help prevent dental decay is Cari-Free. It combines an acid modifier, xylitol, and modifies the bacterial imbalance in the mouth. It can be ordered online at carefree.com
Finally, you should increase the frequency of your dental examinations.
Dry mouth can be devastating to your teeth. It requires a change in how you treat your mouth even if you haven’t had a decay problem in the past. Aggressive preventive care can go a long way in reducing your dental expenses as well as your chance of tooth loss.