Did you know that several medications can exasperate dry mouth? Many medications can cause a sticky dry mouth, that thickens and limits the flow of saliva. A constant dry mouth can be problematic for oral health as saliva plays a significant role in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Dry mouth can change speech, cause dentures to rub and contribute to tooth decay. Commonly found among seniors, dry mouth should be brought up to your dental provider as lack of saliva can cause many issues.
And here is why:
Saliva protects from bacteria and infection. Not only does saliva lubricate the mouth, it helps regulate the acid balance, contains histatin (an antibacterial agent) and forms a protective layer around your teeth. This prevents the loss of minerals to keep your teeth healthy. Saliva also helps wash away sugars and food particles and kill bacteria and infections, which can help prevent tooth decay.
Saliva also heals your mouth. So, if you have an injury, saliva slows down clotting time. In fact, saliva can help wounds in the mouth heal faster than other places would heal on your body. And lastly, saliva helps break down food before it even enters the stomach. It contains enzymes that start the digestive process by breaking down fats and starches. It also helps to moisten food so it can be swallowed more easily.
So, you can see how saliva is critical for a healthy mouth. And If you suffer from dry mouth, it is important to bring this up to your dentist at your next dental visit. Together, you can put together a plan to keep your saliva production flowing and your mouth in a healthy state.
In the meantime, there are ways to help dry mouth that you can try on your own. First, be sure you are brushing your teeth gently at least twice a day, paying special attention to the gum line and flossing at least once a day.
You can also try:
- Chewing sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production
- Avoiding tobacco and alcohol
- Minimize hard, dry, sticky, spicy and acidic foods
- Using over the counter products that help with dry mouth
- Stay current with dental cleanings and exams
- Taking smaller bites of food while chewing thoroughly
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