||June 14th, 2007|
Can You Spit?
Please don't do it now, but my point is that saliva is important, and not just for spitting.
Today, many people don't have enough saliva; a problem we call Dry Mouth. Saliva has many functions, one of which is to protect our teeth. In normal mouths, saliva washes the food particles off the teeth and buffers some of the acid produced by mouth bacteria from sugar in the foods we eat. It also spreads around minerals that re-attach themselves to the surfaces of the teeth, repairing damage and making them harder.
What we often see when someone has dry mouth is a sudden increase in the amount of decay. Usually this starts on many teeth at once, often on the tooth roots. The person may have had very little decay before they developed dry mouth, so they are shocked to have so many new cavities. Surprisingly, many times these types of cavities cause no tooth pain or sensitivity.
Saliva production can be lessened due to normal aging, x ray treatment for cancer in the head area, or certain diseases, but the most common cause today is medication side effects. Many of the medications prescribed today, as necessary as they are, have dry mouth as one of their side effects.
Here are some of the things we tell patients who suffer from dry mouth:
• Do not stop taking any medications you have had prescribed unless you have been authorized to do so by your physician.
• If you develop dry mouth, don't wait for your normal check-up to tell your dentist. Call the office and tell them as soon as possible. By the time you would be regularly seen, you may already have several cavities. Things can change quickly.
• Control your diet to eliminate as much sugar as possible, especially refined sugar - sweets. IF YOU SUCK ON LOZENGES OR CHEW GUM TO STIMULATE SALIVA, MAKE SURE THEY ARE SUGARLESS (THOSE SWEETENED WITH XYLITOL ARE EVEN BETTER; SEE OUR FORMER ARTICLE)
Perfect oral hygiene is a must. More frequent dental check ups are advised. You should ask your dentist for advice on new methods of decay prevention such as acid neutralization and re-mineralization. There are also methods to help control oral bacteria which can be explained to you by a dental professional.
If you, or someone you know, have this condition and no one is helping, call us for an evaluation. Even if you already have a dentist, we may be able to help evaluate your dry mouth, and its causes and treatment. Be sure to tell the receptionist you have a dry mouth problem.
Thomas P. Baglio, DDS & Rabee McDonald, DMD
General and Cosmetic Dentistry
1060 E. Grand Ave
Escondido, CA 92025 760.747.1811.