While dry mouth does not have to be a normal part of aging, around 20% of seniors suffer with excessive dry mouth. This is often the result of a medical condition or as a side effect of certain medications. Understanding dry mouth and what causes it is important, as it can lead to a whole host of dental problems.
Saliva plays a very important role in our oral health. The saliva helps wash away food particles and reduce the plaque on our teeth. Some of the effects of dry mouth and reduced saliva flow can be severe tooth decay and gum disease if left untreated. It is reported that 30% of all tooth decay in older adults is a result of dry mouth.
Dry mouth is often a side effect of certain medications, some of these include:
- Blood pressure medications
- Medications for anxiety
- Pain medications
- Medications for overactive bladders
- Muscle relaxers
- Medications of Parkinson’s disease
There are medical conditions that can cause dry mouth as well. Some of the more common conditions include:
- Parkinson’s disease
Dry mouth can also be a result of dehydration. Which can be an issue for many people, especially older adults and seniors.
There are many things you can do to both treat dry mouth and improve your oral health. First, if dry mouth is a problem for you, your Arbor Dental Group dentist or physician can prescribe medications that can increase your saliva flow. It is especially important to have regular check ups with the dentist if dry mouth is a health issue for you. Your Westminster dentist can watch for specific problems that can be caused by dry mouth.
Here are some ideas to help you increase your saliva production on your own:
- Use sugar free mints and gum. Using these products can stimulate more saliva production. Try to find products that contain xylitol. This is a sugar substitute and can help reduce cavities.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will not only keep you healthy, it will improve your saliva production. Rinse your mouth and drink water after eating to help wash away any food particles. Avoid eating foods that stick to your teeth, such as dried fruit, crackers, candy, pretzels.
- Brush and floss daily. Proper oral hygiene will prevent plaque from building up. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that promotes tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing at least twice a day will do a lot to remove this bacteria from your teeth.
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They may suggest alternate medications that will not cause dry mouth or recommend products that can reduce dry mouth.
If dry mouth is a concern, talk to your dentist and take steps to reduce the effects of dry mouth so your oral health will not suffer.