Do you often find yourself with a dry mouth? This sensation, formally known as xerostomia, is reported by over one fifth of all adults nation wide. Understanding why and how this condition works is crucial to managing your overall oral health. Dry mouth conditions are known to be one of the most detrimental factors in the tooth decay process.
Your saliva contains multiple remineralizing and protective compounds to keep your dental enamel healthy. On top of physically cleaning the tooth surface, saliva can help buffer acids and provides enzymes that inhibit bacterial growth. This is why individuals suffering from dry mouth develop new cavities at a remarkably faster rate than those with normal salivary function. In addition to the amount of decay, those with xerostomia tend to have different types of decay. For them, cavities are commonly found on the roots and smooth surfaces of the teeth.
The most common cause of dry mouth is as a side effect from unrelated medications. Over 500 medications are known to decrease normal salivary function. Of these, 120 are on the list of top 200 drugs prescribed in the United States. Other causes include radiation treatment, stress, hormonal changes and exercise.
From a dental perspective, treating dry mouth is as important as managing the symptoms. As a basic measure, we recommend always keeping a water bottle handy fend of the sensation of dryness. Additionally, Biotene products are excellent at keeping the mouth moisturized. They contain the sugar alcohol xylitol, which naturally stimulates salivary flow and helps limit bacterial growth. We also typically recommend fluoride varnish application to give your teeth an extra boost of remineralization.
If you are worried about your dry mouth or have any questions about managing your symptoms, please give our office a call. We are always happy to help you better understand and care for your entire oral needs!