Dry Mouth

You may wonder why you’re suddenly getting cavities when you haven’t had them in years. As we age, we enter a second round of cavity prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is (xerostomia) dry mouth.

Dry mouth is caused by reduced saliva flow, which can be a result of cancer treatments that use radiation to the head and neck area, as well as certain systemic diseases, such as Sjogren’s syndrome and medication side effects. Dry mouth is a side-effect in more than 500 medications, including those for allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. This is just one of the many important reasons why it is so important to tell Dr. Johns about any medications that you are taking. Dr. Johns can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities. Here are some common recommendations:

  • Use over-the-counter oral moisturizers, such as a spray or mouthwash. (Dr. Johns recommends Biotin and Oasis.)
  • Consult with your physician on whether to change your medication or dosage.
  • Drink more water. Carry a water bottle with you and do not wait until your thirsty to drink. Your mouth needs constant lubrication.
  • Use sugar-free lozenges to stimulate saliva production.
  • Get a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that irritate dry mouths, like coffee, alcohol, carbonated soft drinks and acidic fruit juices.
  • Your dentist may apply a fluoride gel or varnish to protect your teeth from cavities.
  • More frequent cleanings (3-4 per year).