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Chronic Dry Mouth Could Increase Your Risk for Dental Disease

ChronicDryMouthCouldIncreaseYourRiskforDentalDisease

When your mouth is dry, you know it: that sticky, uncomfortable feeling when you first wake up or when you're thirsty. Fortunately, it usually goes away after you eat or drink. But what if your mouth felt like that all the time? Then, it's no longer an irritation—chronic dry mouth could also increase your risk of dental disease.

Chronic dry mouth occurs because of inadequate saliva flow. Saliva plays an important role in preventing dental disease because it neutralizes acid, which can cause the mineral content in tooth enamel to break down and lead to tooth decay. The mouth becomes more acidic right after eating, but saliva can restore its normal pH levels in about an hour—as well as some of the enamel's lost mineral content. Without saliva, your tooth enamel is at greater risk from acid.

While a number of things can potentially interfere with normal saliva production, medication is the most common. More than 500 prescription drugs, including many antihistamines, diuretics or antidepressants, can cause dry mouth. Cancer radiation or chemotherapy treatment and certain metabolic conditions like diabetes or Parkinson's disease can also increase symptoms.

If you are experiencing unusual dry mouth symptoms, see your dentist first for a full examination. Your dentist can measure your saliva flow, check your prescriptions and medical history, and examine your salivary glands for abnormalities. With this more accurate picture of your condition, they can help direct you to the most effective remedies and treatments for the cause.

If medication is the problem, you can talk to your doctor about alternative prescriptions that have a lesser effect on saliva flow. You can also drink more water before and after taking oral medication and throughout the day to help lubricate your mouth. Chewing gums or mints with xylitol, a natural alcohol sugar, can also help: xylitol helps reduce the mouth's bacterial levels, as well as stimulate saliva flow.

Easing your dry mouth symptoms can make your life more pleasant. More importantly, it can reduce your risk of future dental problems caused by a lack of saliva.

If you would like more information on dealing with chronic dry mouth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dry Mouth: Learn about the Causes and treatment of this Common Problem.”

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  • "Dr. Katz is attentive to his patients' needs, always careful to ensure the patient's comfort...It's a friendly office with impeccable service. They will take good care of you!
    Over the years, Dr. Katz and his team have provided me with an extremely high level of care and personal sensitivity. He has earned my trust."
    Jim Velleco - Marblehead, MA
  • "I have had a lot of dental work done during my life--orthodontia, fillings, crowns, implants, root canals, a bridge--and Dr. Katz is by far the best dentist I've ever seen. In addition to being a superior craftsman with a lot of experience, Dr. Katz is attentive to his patients' needs, always careful to ensure the patient's comfort. His staff, several of whom have been working with him for decades, is likewise excellent. It's a friendly office with impeccable service. They will take good care of you!"
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    The professionalism, care and attention are superb. They are warm, welcoming, caring and a pleasure to go to."
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    There is no other dentist that I trust more than Dr. Katz. I am impressed with his professionalism and drive to stay on top of the best dental techniques. He and his team treat my wife and me like family."
    Rob Dealy
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  • "They are thorough, careful and up to date on new techniques. One never feels like a "number" because there is very little staff turnover...We recommend them without hesitation.
    If you're looking for top-notch customer service, a welcoming staff, and valuable take-home knowledge, make an appointment with Dr. Katz. My mouth and I have had nothing but positive experiences in his care."
    Mike **Briddon** - Swampscott, MA
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    Thank you for over 20 years of compassionate and technically excellent dental care."
    Christine Kowal - Swampscott, MA
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    Nicole Jennings
  • "My husband and I are long term patients of this practice because of the trust it has earned with us over time. They are thorough, careful and up to date on new techniques. One never feels like a "number" because there is very little staff turnover .....clearly a plus. We recommend them without hesitation!"
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