Saliva is more than just moisture in the mouth. It is also the first stage of the digestive process and helps you to chew and speak.

Having a dry mouth on occasion happens to all of us. Occasional dry mouth may be caused from consuming alcoholic beverages or coffee. The aging process can leave people with a decreased flow of saliva as well.

Some medications also have drying side effects. These decrease saliva flow that flushes bacteria from the mouth. And the list is long. These include many antihistamines and medications for depression and urinary incontinence, among others, can cause dry mouth.

It is estimated that about 40 percent of Americans take at least one type of medicine that causes oral dryness. If you take medications that are drying to oral tissues, ask your doctor if there are alternatives without this side effect. Some medications that have a particularly drying effect include antihistamines, aspirin, asthma medications and ‘cough and cold’ syrups.

To check the level of tooth loss risks connected to prescription medications, use the link below. This list shows many medications that are commonly prescribed. For example, Stelara shows only 1 case of tooth loss while Prednisone has 436 cases and Zometa has 1,571.

Medical conditions, such as acid reflux, sinus infections, diabetes and bronchitis can also contribute to dry mouth. Snoring, a bad cold or being a habitual mouth breather create drying conditions as well.

And the worst cause of all for dry mouth? Smoking.

Let’s get back to the root of the problem, however – oral bacteria. A buildup of this bacteria creates a sticky film, known as plaque. While daily brushing and flossing curtail the accumulation of bacteria, an adequate flow of saliva helps to keep bacteria levels under control throughout the day along with twice daily brushing and daily flossing.

Sounds simple, yet an estimated 47 percent of adults in the U.S. have some form of gum disease and is the nation’s leading cause of tooth loss. Missing teeth eventually lead to a long list of challenges far beyond the mouth, from gastrointestinal to psychological. Some studies have noted that the number of natural teeth a person has correlates to lifespan.

There is an intricate connection between your oral health your overall health. For decades, researchers have studied the link between the bacteria of periodontitis (advanced gum disease) and heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, preterm babies, and some types of cancer.

Obviously, maintaining good oral health is important. And, it’s clear that adequate saliva flow is a beneficial component in this effort. To combat dry mouth, it is recommended that you drink plenty of plain water throughout the day. Consider using an oral rinse especially formulated for dry mouth and be dedicated to your brushing and flossing routine at home.

Because your 6-month check-ups and cleanings are structured to remove build-up that has accumulated between visits, these appointments will help you to minimize or eliminate damage to teeth and gums. Thus, you save time and money through an involved relationship with your dentist.

At each appointment, remember to update us on all the medications you take (both prescription and over-the-counter). We know your goal is to avoid gum disease and subsequent tooth loss. Knowing your medical and dental history and list of medications can help us be more proactive on your behalf.

And remember…
– Brush at least twice daily. Use a tongue scraper or brush your tongue with your toothbrush after brushing teeth.
– Floss daily. If you find this action difficult, buy an electronic or water flosser.
– Drink plenty of water! If you take medications that have a drying side effect, use an oral rinse that acts as saliva. There are many available over-the-counter.

Nothing assures you of fresh breath and an appealing smile like a clean, healthy mouth. If you have symptoms of gum disease or have delayed dental cleanings and check-ups, call our Demotte dental office at 219-987-5733 to arrange an appointment. We are always happy to welcome new patients!