Saliva is one of those things we take for granted until it is no longer there, creating an uncomfortable condition called dry mouth or xerostomia. Did you realize the average adult produces an amazing three pints of saliva each day, and this body fluid has some important qualities?
How Saliva Helps Your Oral Health
When you chew food, it prompts your body to produce more saliva which begins the process of digestion, breaking down food and making it moist, so it’s easier to swallow. Saliva contains a digestive enzyme called amylase that begins to break down starch. It also acts as a buffer, helping to reduce the impact of enamel-eroding acid created by bacteria. The antibodies in saliva help to fight oral bacteria and other infections. Your mouth needs to be moist for you to speak clearly because it allows the tongue to create the intricate sounds necessary for speech.
What Happens When You Cannot Produce Enough Saliva?
Initially, it would seem as if a lack of saliva is only a minor annoyance, making it a little more challenging to speak and eat comfortably. However, it can jeopardize oral health in people who only produce small amounts of saliva or who cannot produce any saliva. These people will struggle to eat and swallow, will most likely have persistent bad breath, and their oral tissues are more vulnerable to infection. Dry mouth in Newcastle also increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
In the past doctors assumed that dry mouth in Clarington was a natural part of ageing, but nowadays most will agree it’s frequently a side-effect of medications. When you get older, it’s far more likely that you will need prescription medications. Commonly used medications that can cause this problem include antidepressants, asthma drugs, blood pressure medications, and muscle relaxants. Some treatments, especially radiation treatment for head and neck cancers can affect the saliva glands. Also, some chemotherapy drugs will produce this side-effect. Chronic diseases including Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease can cause dry mouth.
How Can Dry Mouth Be Treated?
If your mouth is dry, something as straightforward as frequently sipping water can alleviate the symptoms. Water is a much better beverage as caffeinated drinks can dry out the mouth. Another thing to try is eating sour foods which stimulate the saliva glands, and there are even types of lozenges designed for this specific purpose. Some people like to suck sugar-free candies or chew sugar-free gum to help prompt their mouth into producing more saliva. You can also purchase artificial saliva without a prescription. Some are sold as mouth sprays for more convenience. One problem with artificial saliva is that the effect doesn’t last very long.
How We Can Help
Our dentists at West Bowmanville Family Dental will carefully assess your oral health during each dental checkup here in Courtice. If you do have dry mouth, we can devise a suitable treatment plan to help you feel more comfortable, and to reduce the impact on your dental health. For example, we might suggest using a specific mouthwash or fluoride toothpaste. Topical applications of professional strength fluoride are another possibility. The fluoride will help to strengthen your tooth enamel, reducing the risk of cavities. More frequent professional dental cleanings may be helpful, removing plaque and tartar buildup before it can affect your oral health.
If your dry mouth is caused by prescription medicines, it could be worth seeing your GP. They might be able to change the prescription or dosage to reduce this side-effect. Please, always talk with them first as you should never stop taking prescribed medicines without the advice of a medical professional.