Many prescription and over-the-counter medications come with an unfortunate side effect that can have an adverse effect on your oral health: dry mouth. Although adequate saliva flow is essential to a healthy mouth, taking medication to treat or control your heath conditions is necessary and unavoidable. Medications that cause dry mouth can make you more vulnerable to oral health problems, but there are things you can do to help.
Why is dry mouth bad? Without enough saliva, the environment of the mouth is not able to function as normal. Saliva is part of the defense mechanism against gingivitis, tooth decay, and infections, performing a variety of important tasks, such as helping to wash away food particles that are stuck to the teeth, and helping to keep plaque from building up quickly. Saliva helps teeth to remineralize after being weakened by a little acid exposure, it bathes your mouth in a protective solution containing calcium ions and other minerals your teeth need.
Hundreds of medications can cause dry mouth, including antidepressants, allergy medication, antihistamines, decongestants, asthma medication, anti-anxiety drugs, blood pressure medication, antacids, and more…. even some vitamins and herbal supplements. If you feel you that you are experiencing dry mouth, talk to your pharmacist or doctor, or ask your doctor if it’s possible to prescribe a different medication that does not cause dry mouth as a side effect.
Changing medication is not always an option, but luckily there are a few things can help you combat dry mouth.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep the mouth hydrated.
- Avoid using toothpastes that contain sodium lauryl sulphate and mouth rinses that contain alcohol.
- Reduce your caffeine intake since caffeine can aggravate dry mouth. Breathe through the nose, not mouth – air flowing in and out of your mouth will dry up saliva.
- Keep up with your brushing and flossing routine impeccably and get regular cleanings and check ups.
- Special sprays and products for dry mouth can help add and hold moisture and may contain ingredients that help protect the teeth from cavities.
- Some patients can benefit from wearing custom made trays at night filled with special remineralizing products, or special prescription mouthwashes.
If you are dealing with dry mouth, please feel free to talk to our office. Dr Vancil and the Mall of Georgia dentistry team will be glad to make suggestions that could help keep your smile bright and healthy.