Senior’s Guide to Dentistry: Dry Mouth

Over the course of our lives, we put our teeth through a wide variety of experiences, from common eating and drinking to injuries from impact, grinding, and more. While dental hygiene can help to maintain our teeth over a long period of time, there are some risks that we can’t entirely mitigate, no matter how hard we try.

The Problem

While dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can affect people at nearly any age, it has a more profound effect on seniors. Dry mouth isn’t a normal occurrence as we age, and it can have serious negative impacts on our dental and general health. About 33% of seniors develop dry mouth, and the problem typically occurs as a result of taking other medications for disorders like high blood pressure, allergies, or pain. These medications inhibit the secretion of saliva, which serves a critical function in breaking down food and maintaining a proper chemical environment in our mouths by neutralizing acid and absorbing vitamins and minerals. In the end, a lack of saliva can lead to significant tooth decay, which, in turn, can lead to advanced root decay, periodontal disease, and can ultimately cause cardiovascular problems.

The Solution

Treatment for dry mouth can be complicated since it’s often a side effect of medications for other problems. Furthermore, dry mouth can sometimes be caused by other factors, such as smoking, dehydration, or cancer treatments. Usually, the underlying goal of dry mouth treatment is to increase the production and flow of saliva, and dentists use a variety of strategies to achieve this, including medication. Other treatments can include changes in the patient’s diet, such as avoiding alcohol, sugary foods/drinks, caffeine, spicy foods, and tobacco. It is crucial to visit a dentist for diagnosis if you’re experiencing symptoms such as bad breath (halitosis), cracked lips, a sore throat, and/or problems speaking.

If you have any questions about dry mouth or if you would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our team or make an appointment. Our incredible staff will give you the best dental care possible.

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