perception that drooling becomes more common in your later years. From a
dentist’s point of view, that’s actually a good thing as excessive saliva
washes away food particles and bacteria and neutralizes acids that can lead to increased
plaque accumulation, which causes cavities and gum disease. Truth be told, a
much greater issue for seniors is dry mouth and how that relates to the oral health.
For most seniors,
dry mouth is caused by medications for treatment of any number of issues. Those
can include anti-anxiety agents, antidepressants, antihistamines,
antipsychotics, diuretics, Parkinson’s Disease medications and urinary
issue with dry mouth is it makes the teeth less absorptive to minerals like
calcium and fluoride that strengthen teeth. Consequently, you have weaker teeth
that are more vulnerable to plaque and that leads to cavities and worse.
There are many
things patients can do to alleviate dry mouth. That can include drinking more
water (fluoridated tap water is the best), using over-the-counter saliva
substitutes or moisturizer, chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless
mints. Seniors can also make some external adjustments to their living
environment, like using a humidifier at night while they sleep.
When it comes to
dry mouth, what you don’t do is probably more important. Specifically, you want
to avoid tobacco products, sugary drinks, caffeine and alcohol (that includes
mouthwashes and rinses with alcohol) and spicy and salty foods.
Of course, it’s
always a concern with more elderly patients that they will stop taking a
medication if it makes them feel worse. If you feel like you have dry mouth,
it’s critical to ask your primary care doctor about it so that perhaps they can
alter the medication. Of course, the key ingredient to dental health is
brushing and flossing and regular checkups with your dentist.
For more information, give us a call
781-335-0604 to schedule a consultation.