Healthy Mouth - Healthy Body

The Dental Connection

Is Your Medication Driving You to Drink?

glass of water Everyone has experienced dry mouth occasionally… that natural response you have when you’re anxious or upset. Dry mouth or xerostomia occurs when a person produces little or no saliva. If you have a dry mouth all or most of the time, that can lead to discomfort and even serious health problems. When you don’t produce enough of that natural lubricant, you may have trouble eating, swallowing, and talking. If you wear dentures, you may have trouble wearing them if you have a dry mouth.

Since saliva washes away bacteria and other microbes, you are at a higher risk for:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Oral infections

How do you know if you have dry mouth?

Symptoms of dry mouth include:

  • Sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, tasting, or talking
  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Dryness in the throat
  • Cracked lips
  • Dry, rough tongue
  • Mouth sores
  • Infection in the mouth
When your salivary glands are not working properly the result is that you do not produce enough saliva to keep your mouth sufficiently wet. Some of the reasons your salivary glands may not be functioning properly are:

  • Disease
  • Side effects of medication
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Nerve Damage
Some diseases have been shown to result in dry mouth:
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
Some diseases are associated with dry mouth simply because the medications that are used to control the disease itself can cause xerostomia. Many over the counter drugs that are taken for colds and allergies can contribute to dry mouth. More than 450 individual medications are known to cause problems with the salivary glands including:

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • High-blood pressure medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Sedatives
  • Pain medications
  • Parkinson’s disease medications
  • Antacids

If your dry mouth is severe, ask your doctor if it is possible to change medications. If changing medications is not advisable you may want to try one of the following tips for relieving dry mouth symptoms:

  • Ask your dentist or hygienist about using an artificial saliva product such as Biotene.
  • Take sips of water or another sugarless beverage throughout the day.
  • Drink water or sugarless drink with meals to facilitate swallowing and chewing.
  • Reduce the number of caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and tobacco as they can exacerbate the symptoms.
  • Use sugarless candy or gum to promote saliva production - Dr. Jackson recommends trying a product like Ice Breakers Ice Cubes with Xylitol.
  • Use a humidifier at night.

More FAQs

Is the medication you are taking making you sick?

Pills spilling out of pill bottleunsplash-logoSharon McCutcheon

You may have noticed that we are taking the time to use an iPad to help to update your medical history. Have you ever wondered why we ask you about all of your medications and medical history?

At Cornelia Dental, we update your medical history and take your blood pressure at each preventive visit and review your status at each restorative visit in order to provide you with individualized care.

You may not realize that the medication you are taking to help you control a medical condition may have adverse effects on your dental health. When we are informed about your current medications, we are better able to offer you solutions to help counteract any unwanted side effects of drugs that you may need to take. These may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Altered taste
  • Inflammation, mouth sores, or discoloration of soft tissues of your mouth
  • Enlarged gums
  • Cavities
  • Teeth and gum color changes
  • Bone loss
  • Thrush, or an oral yeast infection
Many people don't get their blood pressure checked on a regular basis. Our blood pressure screening may help you detect high blood pressure and allow you to take necessary steps to work with your physician to control that condition through diet and exercise.

Providing us with information about any changes in your medical history can give us valuable information. For example, if we know that you have neck or back pain we can arrange to shorten your appointments to make your visit more comfortable. If you have joint replacement, we can find out from your doctor if he recommends that you receive medication prior to your dental visits to decrease the risk of infection.

We realize that many times you can be overwhelmed by the amount of information that you are receiving when you see your physician. Probably among the least of your concerns is if the physical condition for which you are being treated has any effect on your dental health. We are here to help and want to work with you to provide the best possible dental care by taking into account not only your teeth and gums but your entire body including any medications or supplements you may be taking.

More FAQs