If there is no moisture in your mouth, you are at high risk to develop dental problems. I get very upset when I hear this complaint from my patients because I know that there is trouble ahead.
As we A-G-E, things get drier. Medications are a big cause of this. Add to the list of possible causes: diabetes, cancer and its treatments and a problem known as “Sjogren’s Syndrome”. The umbrella term is known as “xerostomia” (Latin for dry mouth)
Then, many of us fail to drink enough water because we don’t perceive thirst as well, too. Check out this additional list of further “dehydrators”:
- Coffee is a diuretic – you lose more water than you take in
- Ditto for all caffeinated beverages
- Ditto for alcohol – including beer
- Citrus flavored beverages contain citric acid and often phosphoric acid, tastes good going down, but removes some of the protective saliva from the surface of your mouth
- Toothpastes contain a detergent called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) which strips the saliva from your mouth
- Mouthwashes contain alcohol which again strips the saliva from your mouth
So in the short term, the latest toothpaste or mouthwash may make your mouth feel really clean, but it’s the same effect when you wash you hands with dish detergent. Or when you wipe your face with alcohol – all of the protective layer is stripped away. So what do you do?
First, your dentist needs to analyze what is causing your dry mouth. Much of the treatment is palliative – that’s a fancy word for ‘soothing’ – and to be honest, it doesn’t always work. There are several new products available that appear promising. In my office, I highly recommend Biotene products and just recently, a product called Xylimelts.
Drink only water. Also, ice chips are very refreshing. AVOID hard candies or any sugar containing product. People with dry mouth are highly susceptible to cavites and gum disease. Your dental hygiene needs to be immaculate to avoid these issues.
I would be glad to set up an appointment to talk to you about this.
– Dr. Rick Liftig