Dry Mouth… Improve Your Dental Hygiene


With advancing years, health concerns seem to creep up on most people. Most medications including those for things like high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, etc. often cause a reduction in saliva production. Chemotherapy treatment for cancer also can reduce saliva. The result is that the mouth becomes very dry. Saliva (spit) is very important for a number of reasons; from swallowing and digestion, to immune system interaction. A critical roll saliva plays is the neutralizing of the acids produced by bacterial plaque on our teeth. With lessened saliva, a person can become highly susceptible to dental decay. You mix things like loss of dexterity to brush teeth well, poor diet, medications producing dry mouth and possibly dementia and you have a wild fire of decay. Even worse, people will often resort to a constant diet of mouth lozenges containing sugar to help stimulate saliva formation and that’s like throwing gas on a fire when it comes to dental decay. A sad social comment is that our seniors in rest homes and care facilities, who can’t take care of themselves for their personal hygiene needs, suffer terribly from rampant decay around all their teeth, crowns, and fillings. People who have had wonderful dental care all their lives suddenly can be faced with decay around all their crowns and fillings and are the least prepared to financially repair the damage now that they are retired and perhaps no longer have dental insurance. You can’t stop taking your medications or stop having another birthday, so what should you do? Here are a few suggestions: Improve your dental hygiene efforts to the maximum. Use fluoridated toothpastes and mouth washes. Instead of waiting six months or a year for a dental checkup and cleaning, schedule a cleaning every three months. Avoid a lot of sugars in your diet. Brush immediately after eating and don’t wait to do it just before bed. If you have a relative in a care facility, visits them and brush their teeth for them.