About 25 percent of senior citizens and 10 percent of younger adults deal with chronic dry mouth syndrome, medically known as xerostomia. This lack of sufficient saliva to keep the mouth moist can cause dental problems, as saliva is a protective agent for the teeth. A Family Dentist in Olympia WA can help patients who have this condition due to a health disorder or medication they take.
Two Examples of Causes
Patients who have undergone radiation treatment for cancer in the area of the neck or head may develop xerostomia because of permanent damage done to salivary glands. Unfortunately, radiation therapy may be considered necessary to eradicate this serious illness.
Sjogren’s syndrome is an example of an illness that causes dry mouth. This disorder has a drying effect on the entire body, resulting in the person having to manage uncomfortable eyes and skin rashes. The patient should receive care from a medical doctor for this syndrome, but a Family Dentist in Olympia WA may be the first practitioner to suspect Sjogren’s syndrome when seeing tooth decay that occurred because of chronic dry mouth.
The lack of saliva can make swallowing, chewing and even talking difficult. It reduces the ability to taste food. It increases the risk of tooth decay and gum infections. Infections can occur because the gums and interior of the mouth may become sore and inflamed without sufficient hydration. Mouth ulcers can develop, and without moisture, they are difficult to heal.
Treating the Problem
Dentists with a practice such as Family Dental and Dentures may advise patients like these to sip water throughout the day and to use a saliva substitute that moistens the mouth and stimulates saliva production. If water gets boring, other beverages without the drying effects of caffeine or alcohol are acceptable, but people should go easy on sugary beverages since those increase the risk of cavities. Chewing sugar-free gum also can help.
Gentle teeth brushing with fluoride toothpaste and using a fluoride mouthwash recommended by the dentist will be important in the fight against tooth decay. For people who do not experience enough relief with these methods, the dentist may prescribe a medication that stimulates saliva production.