Why is my mouth so dry and what can I do about it?
You could have xerostomia, which is the dental term for a dry mouth. A growing number of people suffer from having a dry mouth. Having an inadequate amount of saliva is uncomfortable and can cause serious health problems.Learn More
Symptoms of Xerostomia (dry mouth) can include:
- Frequently being thirsty
- Trouble swallowing
- Sores in your mouth
- Dentures that hurt
- Increase in cavities
- Increase in bleeding gums and gum disease
There are many causes for a dry mouth, to include:
- Medications – medications to control blood pressure, anxiety and depression, asthma, breathing and sinus problems, diabetes and kidney disease are just several examples of medications known to cause dry mouth.
- Mulitple medication combinations – it is very common for a person with a variety of health problems to be taking several medications. All of the medications combined could be contributing to the problem of a mouth that feels like the Sahara Desert.
- Treatments for cancer such as chemotherapy and radiation in the area of the head and neck usually cause an extremely dry mouth. Radiation in the area of the head and neck actually causes the glands producing saliva to almost completely stop.
- Sleeping disorders, such as snoring and sleep apnea contribute to dry mouth
- Aging, in general, can result in reduced saliva.
A person who has a dry mouth will want to drink more liquids, but it is important to pay attention to what you are drinking. Beverages like coffee, tea and soda have caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic and can make the dryness worse rather than help. Beverages containing sugar, such as soda and juice, can cause cavities. Sipping soda or juice all day is worse than drinking the same amount with a meal because the longer the sugar is in contact with the teeth, the greater the risk for cavities. In addition to drinking liquids, some people suck on candy throughout the day to stimulate the flow of saliva. This also has a high risk of causing cavities.
Without enough saliva a person will also build up more plaque on their teeth and under the gums. The plaque is bacteria and can cause bleeding gums and gum disease. Lack of saliva causes acidity in the mouth, leading to enamel erosion and risk of decay and gum disease.
If you are one of the many people that has a dry mouth, there are some things you can do to help prevent cavitites, gum disease or sores in your mouth:
- Drink liquids frequently; water is best because it has no sugar or caffeine.
- Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candy occasionally is helpful.
- There are mouth rinses specially formulated to help moisten and soothe an irritated mouth in addition to containing fluoride to prevent cavities.
- There are several products available over-the-counter at your local store that do not require a prescription.
- Try sleeping with a humidifier in the room, as it could help.
- Drinking whole milk with meals can lubricate your mouth to help with swallowing.
- Xylitol, in the form of gum, lozenges or toothpaste can also help with dry mouth.
If you have questions or would like additional information about xerostomia or any other dental concern, please contact my office. The staff is knowledgeable, professional and friendly. We are happy to help. Our office is located in the Miracle Mile Center in St. Louis Park and we welcome new patients and your questions.
For those of you who currently take antibiotic premedication before your dental appointments, there have been significant changes. On April 19, 2007, the American Heart Association released updated guidelines for the Prevention of Infective Endocarditis.Learn More
The new recommendations indicate fewer patients need antibiotic premedication prior to dental treatment.
The following conditions will continue to require antibiotic premedication:
- Previous history of infective endocarditis (an infection around the heart)
- Prosthetic heart valve replacement
- Certain forms of congenital heart disease
If you do not have a history of one of the above conditions, it is likely you will no longer need antibiotic premedication to prevent bacterial endocarditis.
It is important that your medical history be discussed with your cardiologist or primary care physician in order to determine if you have any other modifying factors.
As always, our concern is for your total health. We will work with you and your physician to determine the appropriate protocol for your individual needs.
If you would like to read the full report by the American Heart Association, it can be accessed here.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact Dr. Gross or call 652-926-0020.
Osteoporosis and Your Oral Health
There are many relationships between a person’s overall health and their dental health. One important relationship is seen in a condition called osteoporosisLearn More
Osteoporosis is the medical term for a condition where a person has low bone density. Low bone density can lead to broken bones. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women and one in five men over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis affects more women than cancer, heart disease and stroke combined. This disease leads to approximately 2 million fractures a year that can seriously affect a person’s quality of life.
To treat osteoporosis, many people are prescribed medications that help to increase the bone density and decrease bone fractures. Frequently prescribed medications are from a group of drugs called bisphosphonates. Some of these medications are taken by mouth in the form of a pill and others are injected or given through intravenous infusion.
A rare condition called osteonecrosis of the jaw (BON) has been reported in some people who have taken bisphosphonates. Research has shown that the risk appears to be very small. The American Dental Association states that if you are at risk for bone fractures, the benefits of these medications greatly outweigh the low risk of developing BON.
It is important that you inform Dr. Gross if you have osteoporosis or are currently taking or have taken any form of bisphosphonate. It is highly recommended that prior to starting this type of medication that a comprehensive dental examination is done. Maintaining optimal oral health can reduce the risks of developing BON. Serious oral side effects can occur from osteoporosis and medications used to treat it.
For more information visit these Web sites:
- National Osteoporosis Foundation: osteoporosis.org.za
- American Dental Association, www.ada.org
Periodontal Care…It’s NOT “just a cleaning”
According to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one out of every two American adults aged 30 and over has periodontal disease (gum disease). Treatment and management of gum disease is different for each person based on the degree of the disease, their individual risk factors and overall health.Learn More
What is periodontal disease (gum disease)?
Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth, according to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). One out of every two American adults aged 30 and over has periodontal disease, according to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Gingivitis is an early form of the disease in which the gums are inflamed and bleed but it is reversible with treatment. Periodontitis is a condition that results in an irreversible loss of jaw bone and recession of the gums that support the teeth and if left untreated can result in tooth loss.
Gum disease can cause health problem s outside the mouth. Many studies have shown there is a clear link between oral health and overall health. Research has shown that the presence of active periodontal disease is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke! Untreated periodontal disease can affect the control of diabetes and can be associated with other inflammatory diseases.
The cause of gum disease starts with bacteria in the mouth that forms a sticky film called plaque. Plaque that is not removed can harden into tartar. The body reacts to the particles of tartar that adhere to surfaces of the teeth and roots and the response is inflammation. This inflammation can cause the loss of gums and bone supporting the teeth.
Some of the factors that increase a person’s risk for developing gum disease are:
-Family history of gum disease
-Hormonal changes in women
-Other illness and treatment such as cancer, AIDS
Symptoms of gum disease include the following:
-Early stages may have no symptoms and require diagnosis after examination by the dentist
-Red, swollen, tender, bleeding gums
-Loose, sensitive teeth
-Teeth that have moved
Diagnosis of gum disease is made following a comprehensive dental examination of the gums, bone and teeth.
Treatment and management of gum disease is different for each person based on the degree of the disease, their individual risk factors and overall health. Dr. Gross will evaluate your condition and inform you of the findings and treatment options so you can make the best decisions for your oral health care plan. Because the health of your gums is so important for your overall and oral health, we believe it needs to be addressed as a priority in the assessment and care you receive in this office. We will tailor your care, maintenance and advise to your specific needs.
Snoring and sleep apnea: Coming soon!