October 17, 2018
Health & Fitness
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Five Ways To Stop Dry Mouth

Dr. Jeffrey Cranska
Dr. Jeffrey Cranska's picture
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December 6, 2017

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is not a disease. This medical disorder is simply the decrease in flow of saliva in the mouth. Causes of xerostomia include radiation during cancer therapy; diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma, lupus and diabetes; and the No. 1 cause: medications. Without saliva to help fight oral bacteria, there can be extensive tooth decay. You need to maximize salivary flow, and keep your mouth wet to increase comfort and prevent tooth decay.

Here are the five most important ways to prevent and treat xerostomia:

·         Chew sugar-free gum and candies to stimulate saliva, but no sugar products because they lead to tooth decay.

·         Use over-the-counter rinses and saliva substitute products to lubricate and moisturize.

·         Lifestyle changes: limit alcohol and caffeine consumption, eliminate tobacco use. But you can drink more water.

·         Don’t use alcohol-based mouthwashes; alcohol in mouthwashes kills bacteria but dries out the mouth.

·         When possible, change or limit medicines that have the side effect of dry mouth. These include antihistamines, decongestants and diuretics.

Q: What is tooth decay?

A: Dental decay (caries) is a bacterial disease. In their mouth, everyone has bacteria, which cause caries. These bacteria form a plaque on teeth (sticky bacterial biofilm); a high sugar and starch diet is turned into acid by these bacteria, which causes decalcification and cavities in the tooth, destroys the tooth enamel and allows the decay to occur.

Q: With my dry mouth, what can I do to prevent the spread of tooth decay?

A: Here is a list of helpful things you can do.

Maintain proper nutrition and eating habits. The high-frequency ingestion of empty calories and sugar (starchy foods, candies, sodas and sports drinks, etc.) leads to increased occurrences of tooth decay. Starches are broken down by mouth enzymes to sugars, sugars broken down into acids. These acids then break down the tooth.

To prevent tooth destruction, you must remove the plaque. This is done by daily brushing and flossing. Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Floss or use other between-the-teeth cleaning tools once a day.

Regular dental examinations and professional cleanings remove plaque and calculus (mineralized plaque), administer fluoride treatments and allow for caries to be treated early with fillings.

Dry mouth is not completely preventable or treatable. When present, the best treatments only address the symptoms. Utilize the modern dental products for maximum comfort, and limit destruction from decay with early treatment.

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