Summer in the Land of 10,000 lakes and Dry Mouths-What???
It's summer time and here in Northern Minnesota that means water. We live in the land of 10,000 lakes and all summer we play in the water as much as possible. I love the water just as much as my kids do, but all summer long -as a mom and home-keeper- I am constantly working to dry things out; towels, swimsuits, shoes, socks sweatshirts, etc!
What does this have to do with being a dentist and oral health? It got me thinking about the large number of my patients who would love to have this moisture problem-in their mouths!
If you find that you are constantly trying to keep your mouth moist with gum, mints or water you may be one of the millions of patients who suffer from a medical condition called xerostomia or dry mouth. This condition is not only uncomfortable but it puts you at a much higher risk for developing tooth decay.
There are several reasons patients suffer from dry mouth:
*Mouth breathing- sinus issues, allergies or even a cold that forces you to breath through your mouth and not your nose can dry out your mouth.
*Naturally occurring: some patients are predisposed to having sticky saliva. Also, as we age we produce less saliva.
*Medication: there are over 3,000 medications that list dry mouth as a side effect.
*Cancer treatment: radiation and chemotherapy can cause dry mouth
*Genetic disorder: Sjorgren's Syndrome.
Saliva is important! It acts as an acid neutralizer keeping the pH of your mouth in check. An acidic environment in your mouth leaves your teeth more vulnerable to decay and your breath more vulnerable to having a bad odor!
So like a mom and housekeeper who finds ways to keep my house and kids comfortable and dry, there are ways to battle dry mouth and keep your mouth moist and comfortable:
*Use xylitol gum to stimulate natural saliva production. Xylitol also limits the acid production of cavity-causing bacteria.
*Use a mouth rinse with fluoride, xylitol and neutralizing pH to help prevent cavities
*Limit sugary foods and acidic beverages
*Drink water all the time!
*Use only alcohol-free mouth rinses and toothpastes.
*Brush and floss regularly.
*Talk to your dentist about what products are best and keep your regular re-care appointments!