This is the last blog in this series. Xeriostomia also known as dry mouth is a common condition that severely affects your teeth. This lack of saliva or hyposalivation decreases the protective effect of saliva's ability to remineralize the teeth. Periodontal tissue is also more prone to infection. As your mouth dries out, the pH of your saliva decreases. This decrease causes an increase in your cavity rate and the types of bacteria found in your mouth.
There are many causes of xeriostomia; they include aging, alcohol, dehydration, Sjogren's syndrome, poorly controlled diabetes, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and medications. Medically Induced Xeriostomia or MIX is the most common cause. There are hundreds of medications that cause MIX. Some are antidepressants, antianxiety pills, high blood pressure meds, antiinflammatory pain pills, bronchodilators, water pills, and migraine medications. Interesting,the increase in medical marijuana usage also causes xeriostomia.
What is sad is that many geriatric patients are on multiple medications that cause xeriostomia. They tend to drink very little because they then have to use the restroom frequently. When they do drink something it is coffee or a sugar containing drink that causes demineralization which leads to excessive decay. They have invested large amounts of time and expense to keep their teeth but now they face the loss of their teeth due to decay. They have to learn to chew food differently, which is difficult because their ability to adapt decreases as they age. Or they are forced into a complete denture because of the expense to fix their mouth on a limited budget is impossible. Infections increase which affects their already limited immune system or medical condition. So ask an elderly friend or family member if they have a dry mouth,you may save them from dealing with multiple dental problems in their golden years.
Treatment consists of rehydration with water, avoidance of alcohol containing mouth rinses, the use of xylitol gum and mints, use SLS free toothpaste, fluoride varnish,diet modification and an evaluation from their dentist. A discussion with a physician to see if medications can be changed may also help.