We’ve all experienced dry mouth occasionally, such as when we’ve been too nervous. However, if the condition lingers, it becomes more serious. Dry mouth is not a disease, though. Instead, it’s a condition caused by any number of medical conditions.
Saliva is vital for our oral health; it’s our body’s natural defence against tooth decay. Produced by salivary glands, saliva washes away harmful acids produced by bacteria, plaque and acidic foods. It helps prevent fungal infections. Additionally and it also contains enzymes, lubricants and minerals such as calcium, phosphate and fluoride – which all help strengthen your tooth enamel.
In summary, saliva:
Many conditions or medications can cause dry mouth, such as:
For seniors, a lack of saliva flow should not be considered ‘a normal part of ageing’. The role of ageing and salivary gland function is still unclear. However, we do know that the elderly often suffer more health problems and take more medications which may predispose them to a dry mouth.
As dentists, we want you to look after your dry mouth, as dry mouth can cause cavities and gum disease. If you have dry mouth, speak to your medical or dental professional. If your dry mouth is due to medications, they may suggest alternative options. And, if you’re dry mouth is caused by a medical condition, treating the condition may alleviate your symptoms.
In addition to taking steps to control your dry mouth, take extra care of your teeth to avoid cavities during this time by doing the following: