Dry Mouth or Xerostomia

What is dry mouth or  xerostomia and what can be done to minimize its effects?

People of all ages can have dry mouth symptoms, otherwise known as xerostomia.  This condition may be attributed to many factors either singly or in combination, including but not limited to the following:

1. Medications
2. Allergies
3. Use of a C-pap machine
4. Snoring
5. Age
6. Other health conditions, ie. Sjogren’s Syndrome                                                                                   7. 7. Tobacco and alcohol use
8. Chemo and/or radiation therapy

When dry mouth occurs, salivary flow changes both in quantity and quality.  Saliva helps prevent tooth decay and demineralization of tooth enamel by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, limiting bacterial growth and washing away food particles. Saliva also enhances your ability to taste and makes it easier to chew and swallow. In addition, enzymes in saliva aid in digestion.

Decreased saliva and dry mouth can range from being merely a nuisance to something that has a major impact on your general health and the health of your teeth and gums, as well as your appetite and enjoyment of food.

There are several simple strategies to offset some of these effects.  They include the following:

1. Having a fluoride foam treatment (Acidulated phosphate fluoride foam with 1.23% Fl ion)  twice a year in a dental office;

2. Application of fluoride prescription strength toothpaste on your teeth overnight and, if you have one, under your retainer.  You will need a prescription from your dentist to fill this at the pharmacy.  The difference between a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste and an over the counter (OTC) fluoridated toothpaste is that the prescription strength is much more concentrated and effective than the OTC. ;

3. Use of dry mouth products, ie. Xylimelt tablets overnight and/or All Day Spray and/or Biotene gel (lubricating gels), mouthwash products, and sugarless oral lozenges.   All of these products are effective, low cost and readily available on-line. ;

The first two procedures will re-mineralized your teeth. With time fluoride applications will decrease sensitivity to cold temperatures and protect your teeth against acids and cavity formation.  The third procedure will help to maintain a neutral oral environment against the increasingly acidic environment.

We encourage everyone to maintain their overall health, especially their oral health!