Seniors Who Suffer From Dry Mouth – Why Does it Happen?

Dental help for seniors in Marietta

Dry mouth is a common health condition that can negatively impact a person’s dental health. As a leading provider of family dental services, we regularly help Marietta seniors who are experiencing poor oral health resulting from this issue. But as with so many other conditions, recognizing the signs of dry mouth early and taking preventive actions is vital to achieving better health outcomes.

What You Should Know About Dry Mouth and Oral Health

Are you a senior experiencing a dry, sticky feeling in your mouth, accompanied by a sore throat or difficulty chewing or swallowing? If so, you may have a condition called dry mouth.

Many seniors suffer from dry mouth, whether it be occasional or consistent. But why do seniors experience dry mouth? What causes dry mouth? Join us as we explore these common questions, but first, let’s start with the basics.

What Is Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition in which the salivary glands fail to produce enough saliva to moisten the mouth. Most common in seniors, the issue is often brought on by certain medications or health conditions that impede saliva production. Persistent dry mouth symptoms are a common cause of cavities, gum disease and bad breath.

Why Do Seniors Suffer From Dry Mouth? What Causes This Condition?

Here are the most common reasons why people, especially seniors, experience dry mouth:

  • Side effect from literally hundreds of medications
  • Dehydration
  • Diseases (diabetes, HIV/AIDS, etc)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Nerve damage, specifically to the head or neck

As you can see there are several reasons why someone can have dry mouth. It’s important to note that dry mouth doesn’t just come with age. Not every senior has dry mouth.

What’s so Bad About Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth can be uncomfortable for lots of people. If someone wears dentures, dry mouth can make them feel uncomfortable and the dentures might not fit properly. Without enough saliva, dentures can cause sore spots due to rubbing the roof of the mouth or against the gums.

Additionally, if your salivary glands aren’t producing enough saliva, your risk of developing tooth decay or fungal infections increases. Saliva plays an important part in keeping your mouth healthy since it keeps germs at bay.

How to Fix or Get Rid of Dry Mouth

Seniors with dry mouth can practice effective ways to increase wetness in the mouth.

  • Sipping on water throughout the day
  • Avoiding caffeinated drinks, like coffee, tea or soda (caffeine dries the mouth)
  • Avoiding tobacco and alcohol (they dry the mouth out)
  • Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless hard candy to increase saliva production
  • Using a humidifier while sleeping

Top Oral Care Habits for Treating Dry Mouth

  • Use a mouth rinse that doesn’t contain alcohol
  • Brush teeth twice a day
  • Floss 1-2 times per day
  • Rinse mouth with water after taking syrupy medications or using an inhaler
  • Avoid sticky or sugary foods
  • When given the option, choose sugarless (cough drops, gum, vitamins, etc)

What if Your Loved One Has Dry Mouth?

Schedule an appointment with his/her physician. Discuss your loved one’s medications, along with any symptoms or concerns. If it’s determined that the medication is causing dry mouth, the doctor may be able to prescribe an alternative. The doctor may even be able to prescribe a medication that increases saliva production.

And remember, if dental fear is preventing regular oral health checkups, we provide various types of dental sedation. Our team is committed to providing safe, comfortable oral health care to our senior patients and other visitors. Schedule your appointment today.

Prevent Tooth Decay With Trusted Family Dentistry in Marietta

Shining Smiles Family Dentistry provides first-class, caring dental treatments and checkups to patients in the Marietta area. If you are a senior experiencing the symptoms of dry mouth (or any other oral health concerns), visit our dental practice for assistance. Call (770) 420-8550 or request an appointment.

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National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

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