You brush regularly, floss like your life depends upon it, and avoid sweets and other menaces to your gums and teeth – and still you end up with cavities and other oral health issues? If that’s an experience you know all too well, you are certainly not alone. Millions of people just like you live with that same frustration, as even their best efforts at taking care of their teeth and gums sometimes seem in vain. It might seem like a mystery worthy of the great Holmes himself, but the answer could be simpler than you might think. It could be your medications.
That’s right; if you are taking things like birth control, high blood pressure medication, cancer treatments, or even antidepressants, you could be suffering from xerostomia – that irritating, uncomfortable sensation more commonly referred to as dry mouth. The problem is that dry mouth does more than just inconvenience you. It prevents the flow of saliva that your mouth needs to remove harmful bacteria and keep the oral cavity clean!
A Common Problem for Women
While dry mouth can affect anyone, it is a problem that can be particularly troubling for women. For a variety of reasons, many of the most common medications that produce xerostomia as a side effect are prescribed for conditions that tend to afflict women in greater numbers. Take multiple sclerosis. Many of the medications used to treat MS are designed to reduce nerve pain, or delay the onset of more serious deterioration of the nerve endings. Often, those medications create dry mouth as a side effect.
Breast cancer, high blood pressure during and after pregnancy, and even the need for birth control can all involve the use of medications that dry out the mouth, eliminate saliva, and leave the teeth and gums vulnerable to bacteria that forms cavities or causes periodontal disease. Cancer treatments can be particularly devastating, as radiation can even harm the saliva glands in ways that can be difficult to correct.
Obviously, no patient – male or female – wants to experience the constant need for dental fillings or gum disease treatments. Unfortunately, many patients experience only a reduction in saliva output and don’t recognize that they are suffering from dry mouth until the damage has been done. There is good news, however: if you are on medications that could place you at risk for xerostomia, your dentist has solutions that can help:
- Over the counter products that increase saliva production
- Fluoride trays for home use
- A quality fluoride rinse
- Fluoride toothpaste, preferably prescription strength
Most importantly, your dentist can provide you with the regular monitoring and care that you need to ensure that the medication you take to maintain you health are not placing your mouth at risk for oral health complications. At Ebenezer Dental, we can work with you to provide the examinations and treatment plans you need to protect your teeth and gums from the worst effects of dry mouth. To find out more about how the best dentist in midtown Manhattan can help you in the battle against xerostomia, contact us today.