The Oral Health Impact of Dry Mouth
Most everyone experiences a case of dry mouth on occasion, some to the point at which that parched mouth makes it difficult to swallow, speak or eat. Known as “xerostomia,” dry mouth is a decrease in the amount of saliva produced in one’s mouth. In fact, salivary flow tends to decrease in most individuals as they age, and many people experience excessive dry mouth due to age-related medical conditions and medication side effects.
No matter what age, dry mouth can cause issues with dental and oral health. Its prolonged presence can lead to a significant increase in cavities and periodontal disease, even in those not previously predisposed to either. A loss of salivary flow decreases or eliminates natural buffering and antimicrobial properties provided by the salivary glands, and also slows or halts the body’s natural balancing of pH in the mouth. Absent saliva, plaque and bacteria builds up much more quickly in the mouth, making one more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease, and making it more difficult for your body to naturally remineralize and protect tooth enamel.
Dry mouth is such a significant problem that by some accounts it may be ultimately responsible for up to 30 percent of tooth decay in older adults, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Other health issues caused by xerostomia include:
- Oral candidiasis, a fungal infection also referred to as “thrush.”
- Difficulty wearing dentures.
- Dry nasal passages.
- Burning Mouth Syndrome.
- Limitations on taste bud sensory ability.
- Sore throat.
Avoiding xerostomia will prove difficult for some, as various medical conditions—such as stress, depression, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease—can cause it, and it is a distinct side effect of various medications.
Treating Dry Mouth and Warding Off Related Oral Problems
To treat dry mouth and ward off related oral problems, make sure you discuss the condition with your dentist and other medical professionals. The Marco Island, Florida-based office of Island Tower Dentistry has established the following protocols for treating dry mouth:
Mild to Moderate Dry Mouth
- CT X3 Rinse (available at our office)
- One-half capful swished vigorously in the mouth for 30 seconds two or three times per day, preferably after meals or snacks.
- One-half capful as described above if awakened in the middle of the night with dry mouth.
- Alternatively, put some undiluted CT X3 Rinse in a small spray bottle next to your bedside to spray into the mouth if you awaken with dry mouth.
- Clinpro 5000 (available at our office or by prescription)
- Prior to going to bed, use a regular ADA-approved dentifrice and brush for two full minutes (timed) and floss and/or use interproximal brushes as demonstrated by our dental staff.
- Rinse well and then place a small pea-sized amount of Clinpro 5000 on the brush and use for approximately 30 seconds.
- Spit out the excess, but do not rinse it out, and do not eat or drink afterwards.
Moderate to Severe Dry Mouth
- CTX3 Rinse
- Use as directed above after all meals and snacks.
- ClinPro 5000
- Use the same brushing technique described as above for both morning and evening.
- For the morning routine, brush immediately upon arising and before breakfast.Eat normally afterwards, but vigorously rinse with freshwater after consuming breakfast and any snacks.
- Fluoride Trays
- As directed by our office.
- CTX4 Rinse
- As directed by our office.
- Drink plenty of water. Keeping hydrated will help with saliva production and overall health. Drinking water after eating will also help rinse away food particles that may be acidic or lead to more bacteria formation.
- Use sugar-free gum or mints containing the sugar substitute xylitol. Not only do they stimulate saliva production, but xylitol helps ward off cavities.
The dental-care experts at Island Tower Dentistry have extensive knowledge about dry mouth and the impact it can have on dental and oral health. Our Marco Island, Florida office can diagnose the severity of your dry mouth condition and determine the right protocol to effectively ward off its potential impacts to your teeth and gums. To learn more about our dry mouth treatment, or other elements of our dental expertise, contact the Island Tower team today at 239-394-1004 to make an appointment!