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Many adults take medicines that can cause dry mouth. This is also called xerostomia. Many common drugs have this side effect. They include antihistamines and medicines for allergies, anxiety and high blood pressure.
Some diseases can also cause dry mouth. The most notable are Sjögren's syndrome and diabetes.
Decreased saliva flow can increase your risk of dental decay. That's because saliva washes away bits of food that also feed decay-causing bacteria. These bacteria produce acids that decay teeth. Saliva helps to neutralize the acids. It also contains many minerals, including fluoride. These minerals help strengthen the enamel, the outer hard surface of your teeth.
If you have a dry mouth, try using a fluoride mouthwash. It helps to moisten your mouth and protect your teeth. You also can buy saliva substitutes at the pharmacy. Many people use them to replace the saliva they lack.
Sucking on sugar-free hard candy or chewing sugar-free gum increases the flow of saliva. Products that contain xylitol are the most helpful. This natural sugar helps to protect teeth from decay because the bacteria cannot use xylitol as food.
By the time you're an adult, you may already have some form of periodontal disease. This condition can cause your gums to recede and expose more of your teeth. Receding gums give bacteria more room to roam. This puts you at risk of getting cavities below the enamel, in the roots of your teeth. For example, more than half the adults over the age of 75 have had root decay. If your dentist has treated you for periodontal disease, your gums may have been reshaped. This process exposes tooth roots, which also can lead to tooth or root decay.
To protect your teeth's roots, your dentist can paint a fluoride varnish or gel on them. You can use a fluoride mouthwash or a prescription fluoride gel to get more fluoride.
If you have had recent tooth decay, you're at risk for more. You still have the bacteria and other conditions in your mouth that can lead to cavities. The use of fluoride should be an important part of your daily oral health care regimen if you have prior cavities.
Crowned teeth (teeth having caps) are not safe from cavities. As long as some natural tooth remains, it is at risk. The edges of fillings or crowns can be hiding places for decay-causing bacteria. Fluoride can protect the tooth from decay. In certain cases, it can stop the decay process and allow the tooth to remineralize.
Adults who get this type of therapy are at very high risk of tooth decay. That's because the radiation damages their salivary glands. This causes dry mouth. Saliva fights tooth decay, so people with dry mouth are at higher risk for decay.
If dry mouth results from radiation therapy, then it is important that you use generous amounts of fluoride to prevent decay. We can make you a custom carrier (tray) to hold the fluoride gel. Place this tray over your teeth for 5 minutes each day to ensure longer contact with the fluoride. After applying the fluoride, do not rinse your mouth for 30 minutes. Come visit us at Therapeuo every 2 to 3 months for a regular check-up/follow up appointment.
Fluoride varnish is safe and used by dentists and doctors all over the world to help prevent tooth decay. Only a small amount is used, and hardly any fluoride is swallowed. It is quickly applied and hardens. Then it is brushed off after 12 hours.
Fluoride varnish is painted on the top and sides of each tooth with a small brush. It is sticky but hardens once it comes in contact with saliva. You may feel the hardened varnish with your tongue but you will not be able to lick the varnish off. It does not hurt when the varnish is applied and it takes only a few minutes.