What are some causes of Dry Mouth?
Dr. Jackson: There are a couple different things that can cause a dry mouth. The biggest one that we see frequently is medications. There are lots of different types of medications that can cause people to have a dry mouth. Some of those include some types of blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and certain pain medications. Those are really the big three that cause a lot of dry mouth.
When we see patients who have dry mouth, they typically tend to have a lot more decay than other people. The reason why they tend to have a lot more decay is because they don’t have their natural protection, which is saliva, that rinses off the bacteria that cause decay. It also rinses food particles and sugars and carbohydrates that help feed the bacteria that cause the numbers of bacteria to go up.
Frequently when we see someone who has dry mouth, we want to make sure that they are not helping to add to the problem by carrying around something to drink with them that has added sugar in it. Those sugars can cause the numbers of bacteria to go up because they’re being fed by the sugars.
We also want to make sure that they’re not having anything that has acid in it. I always say acid creates a beautiful perfect sunshiny day for the bacteria to have a great environment for them to go crazy. To naturally prevent decay, our mouths need to be a pH of seven. Acids can take it anywhere from a pH of one to a pH around four to five, which is where the bacteria that cause decay really have the biggest effect.
In terms of treatment for people who have a dry mouth, the biggest thing that I want to make sure that they’re doing is carrying around plain water; not waters that are flavored waters or have any type additives to them.
Because those additives can help cause the numbers of bacteria to go up, which would cause more decay. Plain tap water is the biggest recommendation.
What are some of the treatments for dry mouth?
Dr. Jackson: First of all, water. Second of all, making sure that we use some supplemental fluoride. Fluoride is what causes the bacteria to not be as effective against our teeth in causing decay.
We can do that in a lot of different ways. We can use a supplemental toothpaste that has a higher fluoride level than what you can get at the drugstore. We also, based on the severity, can make carrier trays that are trays that patients sleep in that hold a fluoride gel to their teeth.
Again, the amount of time that the sugar or acid is in contact with the teeth is directly proportional to the amount of decay that people have.