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- When you treat yourself to something sweet, do so at mealtimes. Sugar turns to acid in your mouth and it takes 45 minutes to get back to normal. Frequent snacking doesn’t let your mouth recover.
- Chew sugar-free chewing gum. This makes saliva flow, protecting your teeth and gums against destructive bacteria and acid
- Remove plaque by brushing and flossing every day, from every surface of your teeth. Everybody has plaque, which is harmful to teeth and gums.
- Spit, don’t rinse after brushing. This will leave a coating of toothpaste on your teeth. Choose a fluoride toothpaste which will protect your teeth and acid and toxic plaque.
- Drink water. Fruity drinks may sound healthy, but fruity and fizzy drinks all contain acid which dissolves your teeth over time AND causes decay.
Dry mouth, or xerostomia is a common condition which can affect many people of all ages at any time for a variety of reasons.
Saliva has 6 main functions:
1. Lubrication – keeps the oral environment wet to help with chewing, swallowing and talking.
2. Buffering – neutralises acids produced by plaque bacteria
3. Cleansing – washes away food debris
4. Digestion – starts the breakdown of starches
5. Re-mineralisation – helping repair the early stages of tooth decay
6. Protection – Saliva has antimicrobial properties
Problems associated with dry mouth:
- Dental caries
- Difficulty eating/swallowing/talking
- Increased risk of mouth ulcers/gum inflammation and candida (yeast) infection
- Dry/sore/smooth tongues
Causes of dry mouth include
- Side effect of prescription drugs – particularly medication for high blood pressure, depression and allergies
- Immune related diseases (sjogrens syndrome)
- Radiation damage
Early morning dryness can be a problem for people who sleep with their mouths open.
Advice for dealing with dry mouth:
- Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste (1400ppm)
- Reduce frequency of sugar and acidic foods and drinks
- Regular dental examinations
- Use of saliva substitutes – sprays, gels, toothpaste to lubricate the mouth
- Chew sugar free chewing gum to stimulate saliva flow
- FLuoride mouthwash – such as Dentyl pH which also leaves an oily film around the mouth used at a different time to toothbrushing
- Tooth mouse – has recently been shown to help with symtoms and effects of xerostomia
Biotene saliva substitutes and tooth mouse are available at the reception desk