Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
Dry mouth is a common problem. The lack of adequate saliva affects three out of every ten Americans. When the natural flow of saliva is reduced, you can experience trouble swallowing, pain throughout oral tissues and, nearly always, a short-cut to dental caries and gum disease. The tongue sticks, food doesn’t have much taste, and digestion suffers.
Xerostomia, or dry mouth syndrome, can come with aging, or often as a side effect of many medications. Half of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy experience an extreme form of xerostomia that critically affects their dental health. There is relief in the form of dry mouth toothpaste, special saliva-producing chewing gums, or saliva substitute solutions.
Dry mouth is an especially common problem among seniors. Many are on medications creating dryness of the mouth as a side effect. Without the natural benefit of saliva to decrease bacterial action, we see an increase of cavities on the root surfaces of these patients.
Anyone on a medication causing a dry mouth effect should be encouraged to see theirdentist for regular dental cleanings and topical fluoride rinses.