Dry mouth, or xerostomia as it is officially known, can be very annoying. It can also literally destroy your smile. Why? Because saliva is a natural lubricant that plays many roles in the overall health of your smile. Without it, you can be in for many dental problems. When saliva is decreased and your mouth is dry, problems that may develop include increased tooth decay and gingival infections.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Perhaps the biggest cause of dry mouth is the role that prescription and over the counter medications play in our lives. Xerostomia is the number one side effect of most medications. Other factors include radiation therapy or medical conditions that cause salivary glands to produce a decreased output.
Keeping Your Mouth Lubricated
Drinking water frequently throughout the day will help wash away acids and biofilm, but it isn’t always enough. Some people require artificial drops or lubricating mouthrinses to keep their mouths comfortable; otherwise wearing prosthetics like dentures or partials can become very painful. Your dentist can recommend specific sprays, gums or rinses which are most effective for keeping your mouth lubricated throughout the day. Without enough lubrication, bacteria will sit for extended periods on your teeth and cause cavities at a much quicker rate.
What to Stay Away From
The most important part of managing dry mouth is to know what to stay away from. Many people hope to stimulate saliva by having mints throughout the day. Unfortunately even “sugar free” mints can cause cavities, so run these by your dentist before you rely on them. It’s also important to refrain from using mouthrinses that contain alcohol, as these can dry your mouth out even further.
Regularly scheduled exams will help your dentist identify problems associated with your dry mouth condition. Because you are at an increased risk for dental problems, never wait longer than every 6 months for your dental check-up.
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