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Dry Mouth and Your Teeth

September 12, 2012
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Posted By: Frank Finazzo, DDS
Woman sticking dry tongue out | Dentistry in Fontana CA

There is not a day that goes by in my office, WinningSmiles in Fontana, CA, that I don’t see evidence of tooth decay and gum disease caused by dry mouth.

What causes dry mouth?

Dry mouth can be caused from a myriad of factors that range from autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, to taking medications like those to treat high blood pressure. Other factors include alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. It is a common side effect of many prescription and nonprescription drugs, including drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, allergies, and colds (antihistamines and decongestants), obesity, acne, epilepsy, hypertension (diuretics), diarrhea, nausea, psychotic disorders, urinary incontinence, asthma (certain bronchodilators), and Parkinson’s disease. It can also be a side effect of muscle relaxants and sedatives. Smoking or chewing tobacco can also lead to dry mouth.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of dry mouth include thirst, a dry sticky feeling in the mouth; mouth sores; dry lips; and cracks at the corner of the mouth. People with dry mouths may complain of: constantly thirst; bad breath; difficulty tasting, chewing and swallowing; and a dry, raw, red tongue.

Why is it a concern?

Dry mouth is a major concern for people because it can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss. Saliva is protective to one’s teeth. It helps wash away the bacteria that cause decay and gum disease. Tooth decay caused by dry mouth can be particularly difficult to treat because it usually starts at or below the gum line and wraps around the teeth. In addition, patients that have dry mouths usually have a difficult time wearing dentures.

Treatment

Dry mouth can be difficult to treat if it is being caused by medication. If you think it is caused by certain medications you are taking, talk to your doctor. He or she may adjust the dose you are taking or switch you to a different drug that doesn’t cause dry mouth.

These are some of the things you can do to help dry mouth and improve salivary flow: suck on sugar-free candy or chew sugar free gum; drink plenty water to help keep your body hydrated and your mouth moist; protect your teeth by brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, using a fluoride rinse and visiting your dentist regularly.

There is an over the counter product that we recommend to help allay the symptoms of dry mouth called Biotene. If this doesn’t help, a medication that stimulates saliva production called Salagen can be prescribed by your physician.

Conclusion

If you have any questions or concerns about dry mouth or any other dental concern, we can help. We offer a no charge consultation. Just call us at (909) 822-3003 or contact us.

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