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Dry mouth: What effects does it have on your teeth? Helpful information from Drs Eric and Casey Burns

drymouthWhat is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth also known as Xerostomia is associated with salivary gland hypofunction where there is a reduced amount of salivary output. This watery substance in our mouth aids in lubricating and protecting our teeth, tongue and tissues. It aids in chewing, swallowing and digesting food and also protects our teeth from decay. When we aren’t producing an adequate amount of saliva to lubricate the mouth, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque we become more prone to cavities.

Who does dry mouth effect?
Many people are at risk for having dry mouth, but are unaware that it can create an unhealthy environment for your mouth. Dry mouth can be a side effect of numerous medications. Some of these medications include antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, blood pressure medication and antidepressants. Other causes of insufficient salivary production include anxiety, stress, the consumption of alcohol, dehydration, and radiation therapy.

What symptoms do dry mouth cause?
Some common problems with dry mouth include a burning sensation, problems speaking, difficulty swallowing, oral infections, gum disease, bad breath and tooth decay. A dry mouth also irritates the soft tissues in the mouth making them more susceptible to infection. Without the cleansing effect of saliva oral health problems become more common.

How is dry mouth treated?
There is no “cure” for dry mouth, only ways to aid in preventing symptoms. When caused by medication, speaking to our physician about the dosage or even changing medications can alleviate symptoms of dry mouth. If the symptoms are not caused medications, don’t worry. Here are special tips and tricks to help.
Try to drink water frequently and sip on water throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
Chew sugar free gum that contains Xylitol, which increases salivary production. There are now over the counter rinses, lozenges, and tooth pastes aimed at helping dry mouth.
Avoid mouth rinses that contain alcohol and avoid alcoholic beverages because they increase dry mouth.
Avoid using any tobacco products. See this site for more information on the negative effects of tobacco.
Use a soft bristle toothbrush and brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal and use fluoridated toothpaste. This will help keep food and bacteria from build up on the teeth which leads to cavities.
Floss your teeth daily
Visit you dentist twice a year for regular cleaning.

Visit Eric and Casey Burns DDS to learn more about our services, read our dental reviews or meet Drs. Eric and Casey Burns and staff. We are a family dentist in Wilmington, NC and are currently accepting patients of all ages! Take care and see you soon!

JR