Did you know that the medications you take could have a significant impact on your oral health? This includes over-the-counter medications as well as medications that are prescribed by your physician. That is because many medications cause chronic dry mouth or Xerostomia. Chronic dry mouth is a common side effect of many popular medications including sinus and allergy medications, anti-depressants, blood pressure medications and more. Xerostomia is defined as a condition of not having enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. This common problem can make it difficult to chew, eat and swallow. It also increases the risk for tooth decay (dental caries) and periodontal disease. This is because your saliva has the important job of keeping harmful bacteria in your mouth in check. When there is not enough saliva in the mouth, bacterium can build up to harmful levels.
Drinking plenty of water can help to combat chronic dry mouth. You can also chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candy to stimulate the formation of saliva. If you have Xerostomia, practicing good daily oral hygiene becomes even more important to your long-term dental health. It may be a good idea to increase your frequency and the length of time spent brushing and flossing your teeth everyday. This will help to remove the harmful bacterium from the surfaces of your teeth and gums. Lastly, you should visit your dentist frequently (at least once every six months) for a regular dental cleaning and examination. During this time, your dentist can check for signs of tooth decay and/or periodontal disease and if necessary, provide appropriate treatment.
If you suffer from chronic dry mouth, your dentist may recommend that you stay away from sugary or acidic foods, brush with a fluoride toothpaste, and add moisture to the air you breath at night with a room humidifier. There are also a number of over-the-counter saliva substitutes and mouthwashes that are designed to help with dry mouth. If you are experiencing chronic dry mouth as a result of your medications, talk to your dentist today about how you can reduce your chances of developing tooth decay and periodontal disease.