Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a common problem amongst seniors. It is caused by a reduced flow of saliva, which could be a side effect of a medication or a symptom of a medical condition. If you take antihistamines, painkillers, blood pressure lowering medications, decongestants, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, Parkinson’s disease medications, diuretics or incontinence medications, you will be more likely to suffer from this condition.
An insufficient supply of saliva can cause many problems. Saliva is required to help digest food, wash away stray food particles and reduce the amount of plaque that builds up in the mouth. It also helps to heal sores and prevent infection by controlling the amount of bacteria, viruses and fungi in the mouth. If left untreated, a dry mouth can feel very uncomfortable, can leave a constant dry feeling in the mouth and make it difficult to eat properly. It also makes you more prone to developing mouth sores, experiencing cracked lips and suffering from a rough tongue.
In addition to causing a wide range of oral health problems, dry mouth can cause severe tooth decay. Tooth decay develops when food particles and bacteria join together to form a sticky substance called plaque. Saliva naturally decreases the amount of bacteria in your mouth and prevents plaque from building up on your teeth. A lack of saliva can contribute to plaque accumulation, which can cause the surfaces of your teeth to slowly break down. If left untreated, plaque can damage your teeth and expose their nerves, causing you to feel pain and discomfort.
If you develop tooth decay, Dr. Poss can help to repair your damaged teeth. He can also recommend several products to help alleviate dry mouth symptoms and subsequent issues. Tooth decay is relatively easy to treat in its early stages. If you fail to seek treatment, you may eventually require costly root canal treatment or tooth extraction.
If medication is causing you to suffer from xerostomia, you should first consult with your physician to determine whether it would be beneficial for you to change your medication or adjust your dosage. If this is not possible, you should maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth at least twice daily, flossing daily and eating a range of nutritious foods. You should also visit us regularly for check-ups, dental cleanings and topical fluoride rinses. During your consultation, we may advise you to make changes to your lifestyle to improve your saliva production. Increasing your water intake, chewing sugarless gum, reducing your intake of sugary foods and refraining from consuming alcohol and caffeine-containing drinks may be recommended.
If you reside in the Nashville area and desire more information on the treatments for a dry mouth, contact Dr. Poss, Nashville Cosmetic Dentist to discuss your options.