Saliva is a natural lubricant. It washes away food after meals and begins to digest food by breaking it down. Without adequate saliva flow, food clings to teeth and dental restorations. The bacteria that cause decay and gum disease digest this food and flourish.
Our saliva can change over time. The quality and quantity can diminish naturally with age. More often, patients begin taking medications that cause a reduction in saliva flow. Common medications that cause dry mouth include anti-depressants, diuretics, over-the counter cold remedies, antihistamines, some beta-blockers, and anti-hypertensives. People who have had radiation treatment to the head or neck often loose proper salivary gland function.
It is essential for those with dry mouth to clean their teeth after meals to remove food and plaque left behind. They should also consider more frequent cleanings. Teeth cleanings every 3 months will allow the hygienist and doctor to closely monitor the condition and reduce the incidence of decay. It is also important to drink water often, keeping the mouth moist, rinsing away food and increasing the amount of saliva.
There are many over the counter products available to help relieve the problems caused by dry mouth. Lubricant sprays and rinses can be used to moisten the mouth and promote salivary flow throughout the day. Dry mouth patches can be placed on the gums or roof of the mouth to promote saliva flow at night. Xylitol sugar lozenges and chewing gums are used to prevent decay. Prescription strength fluoride toothpaste can be used to prevent, and even reverse, areas of decay.
For patients with dry mouth I highly recommend using a Sonicare tooth brush with a fluoride toothpaste after meals followed by flossing, and using a Waterpik at least once a day to remove food from between teeth.
I have tried many combinations of these products.
Prescription fluoride tooth paste
ACT Dry Mouth Lozenges
Dry Mouth Patches
Biotin Dry Mouth Rinse
Oasis Dry Mouth Spray