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“Brushing up” – June 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-old-woman-drinking-mineral-water-white-background-image29876391A Dry Mouth can be a big dental problem. Have you ever wondered why you always have a feeling of being parched? What about cracked lips? Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition in the mouth that occurs when saliva glands don’t work properly. Saliva is an important part of a healthy mouth. It lubricates our mouths and helps us digest food, chew and swallow. It provides comfort and helps protect the oral tissues against ulcers, sores, and other effects of friction. Saliva neutralizes acids and provides antibodies against bacteria.

Dry mouth symptoms may include but are not limited to:

  • Thick saliva
  • Dry, sticky, or burning tongue
  • Bad breath
  • Mouth sores
  • Cracked lips
  • Loose dentures (saliva helps create suction that holds denture)
  • Problems chewing and swallowing
  • High rate of tooth decay

Dry mouth is most commonly seen in ages 40 and up. For some it is a temporary condition. For others, dry mouth may affect them for a lifetime. There are several causes of dry mouth including:

  • Dehydration
  • Stress
  • Chemotherapy and radiation
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Antidepressants
  • Autoimmune disorders

As you can see, overall health is a major factor in dry mouth symptoms. Do not stop taking a medication without your doctor’s knowledge, even if your medicine is the cause.

Our suggestions to minimize dry mouth are:

  • Sip water frequently
  • Chew sugarless gum with xylitol
  • Use over-the-counter saliva substitutes
  • Avoid commercial mouth rinses or mouthwashes that contain alcohol or peroxide. These ingredients will increase dry mouth symptoms.

It is important to discuss dry mouth with your doctor and dentist. They can review your health and medications with you as well as help you to manage your dry mouth symptoms. Regular dental check ups, brushing and flossing, and using fluoride containing products will be a necessary step in maintaining a healthy mouth!

Until next time, keep smiling, sharing, and caring!

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