There are many medications that will decrease your saliva flow. Some of the more common ones include antihypertensives (for high blood pressure), antidepressants and antihistamines(commonly for allergies). It has been found that these medications can stop the salivary glands producing saliva – sometimes as much as 50-60% less.
Saliva is critical to maintaining a healthy re-mineralising environment protecting the teeth and lubricating the soft tissues of the mouth. When this healthy balance is disrupted we start to see holes appearing in the teeth, a thinning of enamel and complaints of dry mouth and lips with difficulty sometimes even eating and swallowing.
So with the ever increasing use of these medications what can you do to help?
- Drink plenty of water – try for 6-8 glasses per day
- Chew sugarless gum and celery as it has a high water content
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake, and avoid cigarettes
- Avoid excessive tea and coffee
- Avoid alcohol-containing mouthwashes.
- Avoid acidic beverages (e.g. wine, fruit juices, soft drinks, sports drinks) and, if you must have, limit consumption to meal times.
- Limit sugar intake and avoid sugary snacks.
- Ensure good oral hygiene and regular dental checks.
If you have a very dry mouth try bicarbonate mouthwashes. A bicarbonate mouthwash can be made up by adding approximately half a teaspoon of bicarbonate powder to a glass of warm water. Rinse with mouthwash on waking and at any time during the day
Use remineralising products such as tooth mousse without rinsing off the teeth after use.
Unfortunately when we have a dry mouth we tend to reach for sugary sweets to suck on and acidic sugary beverages to relieve the symptoms which further increases the risk of dental cavities.
This list may not seem very exciting, limiting some of life’s daily joys (ie:coffee). Some maybe able to conquer all of it, but most should be able to achieve number 1. So get started today and protect your most valuable asset – your teeth.