Prescribed medicines contain printouts of side effects. The list of side effects seem to be longer than the benefits. Some side effects we feel important and some we overlook. This article is about a major side effect few think of called dry mouth.
Picture the following scenario: You have always done what your dentist recommended with the goal of keeping your natural teeth forever. Over the years, you had long-lasting small fillings and crowns. Your regular six month checkup with your favorite hygienist always ended in good news.
As time goes on, your physician finds the need to put you on medication for conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. It makes sense because these diseases can kill you.
While on the medication, you notice your mouth becoming uncomfortably dry. Night time is even worse so you keep some cough drops and water on the night stand to help lubricate and soothe your throat. Brushing just doesn’t seem as effective as it was in the past. About the only thing that helps are mints and sipping water all day long.
Because of various issues, you miss your hygiene visit but make it a point to go the next one which would be a year since the last check up and exam. As soon as the hygienist looks in your mouth, you can tell by her expression something is wrong. Your hygienist looks here and there, sets you up in the chair and says, “I see some things going on and you need to get the doctor. Something is not right.”
The doctor’s expression is the same. The diagnosis is rampant decay of most of your upper and lower back teeth. Even the crowned teeth have decay at the gum line. The news is heartbreaking to everyone in the room. In order to become healthy, teeth either need to be extracted or re-crowned, an expensive and unwanted outcome.
Saliva is taken for granted. Its lubrication allows the lips, tongue and cheeks to effortlessly slide over and around teeth. It also helps with swallowing, washing away particles and helps maintain proper PH.
When there is no saliva the lips and tongue stick to the teeth which is extremely uncomfortable. Food also sticks on the teeth especially at the junction of the gums. A specific type of sticky bacteria called strep mutans, feeds on the food, multiplies rapidly, producing acid that eats away on teeth.
Prescribed medication is lifesaving and is more important than teeth. On the other hand, infected teeth can pump bacteria into the blood stream making whatever disease you have even worse. Heart disease, diabetes, joint replacements, lung problems are just a few that are effected with bacteria from the mouth. The answer is to keep taking the medicine but use preventive measures to stop the decay.
Prevention of dry mouth can be summed up by saying teeth need to remain clean and free of food and bacteria. Easy to say and almost impossible to do. We have developed some regimens that appear to be working quite well. They involve two products that are not well known: xylitol and ozone oil.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener that has a different molecular structure that kills decay-causing bacteria. I will write more about these products next month because the topic is so important. For right now, please do your own research by Googling the Spry Xylitol products.