With more than 400 medications having the side effect of dry mouth (and counting), the effect on the mouth can be staggering, both from a financial and a personal suffering standpoint.
Adequate amounts of saliva are necessary for not only general comfort of the mouth, but for tooth decay prevention. Saliva contains important immune system components that are necessary to maintain a healthy mouth. Generally speaking, the worse the dryness in the mouth, the worse the tooth decay – unless strong measures are taken to counteract the effects of a lack of adequate saliva.
Additionally, lack of saliva will cause a bacterial overgrowth, which can result in bad breath. Many of the types of bacteria in the mouth can produce VSC’s (volatile sulfur compounds) that give off the smell of rotten eggs.
What can be done about dry mouth problems? Follow this troubleshooting map:
1. If you’re taking a medication in which you noticed dry mouth issues starting soon afterward, contact your physician to see if there is a different medication which could be substituted.
2. Have your teeth cleaned professionally more than twice a year.
3. Brush and floss more than you ever have before.
4. Try different over-the-counter mouthrinses made specifically for dry mouth problems, such as Biotene, Oasis, and others. More will be hitting the market soon, as dry mouth problems are escalating.
5. Drink plenty of water, but avoid keeping water beside your bed at night to sip on when you wake up and your mouth is so dry. Water actually dilutes the mucus component of what saliva you may be producing, and you’ll repeat the cycle over and over again each night – not to mention having to get out of bed to use the bathroom often. Instead, use a gel or rinse right before going to sleep, and then keep one of these beside your bed at night instead of water.
6. Use a professional strength fluoride toothpaste. These will help strengthen the enamel, slow down or reverse tooth decay, and kill bacteria that tooth decay and bad breath.
7. If you’re still having troubles, see your dentist for further evaluation and treatment.