The answer is yes!
Unfortunately, in today’s world, there are many causes of dry mouth. Some of the most common culprits are the medications we take. Both over the counter and prescription drugs can have this effect. Have you ever wondered why Dentist routinely ask if you have hay fever? It’s because antihistamines not only dry out the sinuses, the way we want them to, they also dry out the mouth. That asthma inhaler that you or your kids use to help you breathe? Yep, that one dries you out too. Even those drugs for high blood pressure, that are so important for longevity, can lead to severely dry mouth.
More than 32 million adults are at risk for dry mouth, or xerostomia, caused mainly by prescription and over-the-counter drug products. According to the Mayo Clinic the more likely types to cause problems are some of the drugs used to treat depression and anxiety, antihistamines, decongestants, high blood pressure medications, anti-diarrheals, muscle relaxants, drugs for urinary incontinence, and Parkinson’s disease medications. It’s estimated there are over 400 medications that can cause xerostomia.
Why is dry mouth such a concern? Because the bacteria that cause decay thrive in that environment. Our bodies use saliva to help prevent decay. As a germ killer, saliva has few rivals. It also has histatins, which not only kill bacteria but have been shown to speed wound closure independent of antibacterial action. Our saliva even forms a protective film that clings to the surface of teeth. All in all we need it.
Ok, I think we can agree that these are medications that we aren’t going to give up taking. They make are lives and health better. So what should you do about it?
Please, please don’t suck on regular candy or cough drops, especially if they are citrus flavored. The combination of sugar and dry mouth can be devastating. Most of us in the dental field have seen shocking results with combination. Extremely accelerated decay even in previously healthy mouths.
Talk to our team if you are experiencing persistent dry mouth, we can help. There are products that increase moisture in the mouth such as Biotene mouth rinse. You can suck on sugar free candy or chew sugar free gum, xylitol is a good ingredient to look for. Dr. Bickel may even prescribe fluoride and calcium toothpaste to help prevent decay. Dentistry today is all about prevention!