Lacee Hogle RDH
How can medications effect my mouth in a negative way? Medications are a necessity in many people’s lives. Unfortunately almost all medications have side effects and one of the most common side effects is dry mouth. Even though dry mouth, or xerostomia (zeer-o-stoe-me-uh), makes it uncomfortable to talk and eat, more importantly it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva is the number one protector in the mouth. Not only does it coat and lubricate the tissue in the mouth, it also neutralizes acids produced by bacteria and washes away food debris and plaque. It’s obvious that you can’t discontinue taking medications because it causes dry mouth, but you can start making a few changes in your life that will not only help you cope with dry mouth but will also help you create a healthier environment in your mouth.
Here are some things you can do to help relieve dryness and to keep your mouth healthy:
• Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candies to stimulate the flow of saliva. Look for products that contain xylitol, which is a sugar substitute that can help prevent cavities.
• Limit your caffeine intake because caffeine can make your mouth drier.
• Don’t use mouthwashes that contain alcohol because they can be drying.
• Stop all tobacco use if you smoke or chew tobacco.
• Sip water throughout the day.
• Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes
• Try a mouthwash designed for dry mouth — especially one that contains xylitol, such as Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Rinse or ACT Total Care Dry Mouth Mouthwash, which also offer protection against tooth decay.
• Avoid using over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants because they can make your symptoms worse.
• Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
• Add moisture to the air at night with a room humidifier.
• Avoid sugary or acidic foods and drinks because they increase your risk of tooth decay.
• Brush with a fluoride toothpaste and floss at least twice a day— ask your dentist if you might benefit from prescription fluoride toothpaste.
• Use a fluoride rinse or brush-on fluoride gel before bedtime. Occasionally a custom-fit fluoride applicator (made by your dentist) can make this more effective.
• Visit your dentist at least twice yearly to detect and treat tooth decay or other dental problems.
So don’t get discouraged if you have dry mouth. As you can see, there are many things that will help you cope with dry mouth. But remember, the key to preventing decay, especially with dry mouth, is to brush and floss daily and to expose your teeth to fluoride at least twice a day. Using a Fluoride rinse in addition to fluoridated toothpaste is ideal. If you have any concerns or questions regarding dry mouth, make sure to discuss these concerns with your dentist or hygienist.
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